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The Joy of Moving: Why Choosing Joyful Movement Can Benefit Your Mind and Body

Have you ever seen exercise as a chore, a punishment, or a means to an end, rather than a source of pleasure and fulfillment? We know exercise is good for us, but if you grew up in diet culture, exercise was something you HAD to do because you needed to lose 20 pounds or you had to burn off the cookie you ate. It sucks!

pilates class

This is where the concept of "joyful movement" comes in. Joyful movement is the idea of choosing physical activities that bring you joy, excitement, and satisfaction, rather than forcing yourself to do exercises that you don't enjoy or that feel like a burden because diet culture says you have to.

Since choosing joyful movement, I've been way more consistent in exercise. I almost never miss a cardio dance class because I love it. I hike and walk, and I cannot wait to get my kayak into the water. I enjoy moving now instead of feeling like I "have" to do it.

Not convinced? Here are some of the benefits of incorporating joyful movement into your life:

  1. Improved Mood: Joyful movement can have a significant impact on your mental health and well-being. When you engage in activities that make you happy, you release endorphins, the "feel-good" chemicals in your brain that can boost your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote a sense of pleasure and relaxation. You'll feel more energized, focused, and optimistic, and less prone to negative thoughts or emotions.

  2. Increased Motivation: When you enjoy the activities you do, you're more likely to stick to them and to maintain a regular exercise routine. You won't dread the workout, but rather look forward to it, and you'll find it easier to overcome obstacles or setbacks. Plus, you'll have more fun along the way, and be more likely to explore new activities and challenges that can keep you engaged and excited.

  3. Enhanced Creativity: Joyful movement can also spark your creativity and imagination. When you're in a state of flow or "in the zone," you can experience a sense of freedom and inspiration that can lead to new ideas, perspectives, and solutions. You'll be more open to trying new things, stepping outside your comfort zone, and pushing your limits, both physically and mentally.

  4. Improved Physical Health: Joyful movement can also have positive effects on your physical health. When you engage in activities that you enjoy, you're more likely to do them with proper form and technique, which can reduce your risk of injuries and strains. You'll also be more likely to challenge yourself at your own pace and intensity, and to avoid overtraining or burnout. Plus, you'll develop a more positive body image and self-esteem, and be less likely to compare yourself to others or to internalize unrealistic beauty standards.

  5. Better Relationships: Joyful movement can also be a social and community-building activity. When you engage in activities with others who share your interests and values, you can build friendships, support systems, and networks that can enrich your life and boost your happiness. You'll also have the chance to learn from others, to exchange ideas and feedback, and to contribute to a positive and inclusive environment.

woman dancing in workout class

In conclusion, incorporating joyful movement into your life can have numerous benefits for your mental and physical health, motivation, creativity, and social life. Whether it's dancing, hiking, cycling, yoga, or any other activity that makes you happy, choosing joyful movement can help you transform exercise from a chore into a source of joy and fulfillment. So, go ahead and explore your options, and find the activities that light up your life!

If you need a workout buddy and you're local, let me know! I'd be happy to invite you to my dance classes or hit up Upper Lake Park's gym together!

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