We all know exercise is beneficial, especially as we age, but more often than not we get distracted with other tasks, and then feel guilty we never got around to it.
What iF, we view exercise as our new habit for happiness?
Our bodies crave movement. By giving our muscles a chance to do what they were created for, we release old energy and feel more alive and connected to the rhythm of life. But how do we get moving?
Create a new approach that works for you
Here are some tips that have helped form my personal movement routine.
Set out your workout clothes the night before. It’s much easier to get going when what you need is already waiting to support you. As you dress, acknowledge that you’ve chosen to do something beneficial for yourself – an audible “Thank you, me” works great. You’re dressing for success, and even the act of putting on your workout clothes impacts your attitude and readies your body.
Don’t rely on 100% willpower. Prep an answer for when the voice in your head says “Go back to bed,” or “I’ll do it later.” One of my favorite responses to that self-talk is: “I know how great this is going to make me feel.”
Keep it fun
This is your personal time for wellbeing, so ask yourself what would make your workout a joyful experience.
Perhaps a walk/hike is a great time to catch up with friends.
Is taking a class and feeling the collective energies something that boosts your spirits?
Maybe making it the exclusive occasion to listen to your favorite podcast or special playlist makes the time fly by.
Can you get out in nature to enjoy the wonders of your surroundings to vary your regime and keep it interesting?
Do activities like golf, tennis or Pickleball appeal to your competitive side?
The Happiness Hack
When we exercise, our increased heart rate pumps more oxygen to our brains, affecting our overall positivity and helping manage anxiety and depression.
With aerobic exercise, our body releases a host of hormones that are chemical messengers in the brain which communicate via neurons. Endorphins (think runner’s high) reduce our perception of pain – meaning we are more likely to feel positive and upbeat during a challenging workout. Mood-enhancers like serotonin are associated with feelings of happiness, focus, and calm. And dopamine is associated with feelings of rewards, motivation, and being productive.
Life feels easy-breezy. Exercise increases our strength and improves our cardiovascular fitness, helping us get through our day with physical ease and a smile.
As a former professional athlete, keeping fit is like coming home to myself. I’m grateful for the gift of movement, and I am keenly aware of how it keeps me centered. My motto is to start with whatever form of exercise appeals to you, because you will tend to keep doing it. And when it comes to your mindset, I defer to Henry Ford who said “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
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