Finding the Joy in Movement
Updated: May 13
At the beginning of the year I made a list (albeit short) of goals for the year, by publishing them online and having them on the board in the studio I was making myself accountable. I aimed to Drink more water, Run 10km and Do more yoga. Things I thought achievable, that would benefit me and challenge me.
Drinking more water has been easy enough, I gifted my clients glass water bottles at Christmas and in using a glass bottle myself I can see how much water is waiting to be drunk and it encourages me to "sip when I see!"
Running has been harder... The reason I chose running as a goal was the memory of how much I used to love it, it used to be my happy place, my 'zone out of life' space and I could run for hours. I loved its versatility, I could run for a long time or a short time, on hills or around the bays, every day could be a different route or I could challenge myself to run faster on the same route. It's taken me a while to commit to starting and when I ran last week (plodded would be a more accurate description) I just felt rubbish afterwards, there were no endorphins, no happy face or feel good buzz. I actually regretted my choice. Terrain aside (it was hilly), I wasn't well fuelled, I didn't know the area I was in, and in hind sight, I was chasing something from the past. I see that now, and as each day has passed since, I have passed on the opportunity to go for a run in favour of doing something I know I'll enjoy. After all, I exercise for the joy of moving my body, so why put it through anything less than something I love.
But when I think back to the start of my running journey, it wasn't easy, I forced myself to do it until it felt easier, and as it became easier I enjoyed it more. So that begs the question do I persevere? I'm not normally a quitter, the reasons I've stopped running in the past range - pregnancy, motherhood and injury (in no particular order) and while I've had brief periods of happy running days since, I've found other ways to exercise that I prefer, more time efficient ways, ways that leave me with that happy, feel good buzz, the endorphin high of having moved my body. Sometimes thats a HIIT class, or a bike ride, sometimes its lifting weights, walking up a hill or simply putting on music and dancing around the studio, but the point is I feel happy afterwards and good about having moved.
Joyful movement is a way of approaching physical activity that puts the emphasis on pleasure. We know that physical activity offers a host of physical and mental health benefits, and by emphasising the 'joy', that feeling of happiness, you're more likely to regularly move your body and in doing so create a healthy habit. Joyful movement also emphasises choice. My choice not to run at the moment is because it brings me no joy. It's also worth pointing out that my choice to move my body isn't always about intensity, distance, time or proving something to someone (myself included). Its about feeling good and listening to what my body needs. So I'm not saying I won't try running again and I'm not taking down that running goal (yet), but I'll take it one day at a time, if I feel like it, I'll give it another go and if it brings me no joy, then its not worth chasing.
It's so important to pay attention to your body's cravings for movement and listen to what kind of movement it wants. If I'm feeling frustrated or upset, I want to lift weights or HIIT it out of my system. I want yoga when I need to stretch and engage with my body. I want the outdoors and fresh air when I want to zone out and clear my head. They all make my day that little bit better. So I'll keep on doing what brings me joy.... a yoga class that leaves me feeling refreshed, clear headed and walking that little bit taller. An invigorating hike up the local hill on a sunny but chilly day. A walk to the village with the kids while we chat about our day. Riding through far off lands on zwift with my husband. Sweating my way through a gym class with buddies and some banging tunes. Lifting weights and feeling like a badass. These are some of the ways I currently move my body that bring me joy. These are my happy place.
Moving your body can leave you feeling this happy!
Health & Happiness