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15 benefits of exercise that isn't about weight

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I spent a long time over exercising and pushing my body through pain. I would force myself to exercise so I could “earn” food to eat that day. I only viewed exercise as a way to control my weight.  It was only during my recovery that I learnt that exercise didn’t have to be crazy workout regimes, just moving our body daily in a way that we enjoy is just as beneficial. I also learnt that exercise has lots of amazing wellbeing benefits that don’t get talked about. Now I only move my body in ways that I enjoy, and my focus is on how it makes me feel, and not my weight. I don’t even like to call it exercise anymore, just because of the negative connotations, so I call it movement.

Exercise shoes

Movement is a form of nourishment for the mind and body and it has so many amazing wellbeing benefits. It reduces stress, increases relaxation, boosts our energy levels, helps us sleep and it makes us feel really good! Most importantly, exercise makes us healthier, stronger and happier. It’s a drug free way to get a natural high!  It can also prevent cancer, heart disease and diabetes. The more we exercise the more creative, productive and resilient we are in times of stress.

One of the biggest barriers to movement is time, but if we have time to watch Netflix and scroll through Facebook, then we have the time to incorporate some movement into our day.

The other barrier is tiredness. The last thing we want to do is move when we are exhausted, but when we move our body when we are tired, our blood pumps faster bringing more energy and endorphins to our body.

Here are some of the benefits of regular movement.

1. Increases bone strength

2. Decreases stress.

3. Decreases blood pressure

4. Reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and some cancers

5. Increases heart and lung strength.

6. Increases mood.

7. Improves satiety cues and appetite regulation.

8. Improves learning and memory.

9. Prevents cognitive decline with ageing.

10.  Increases energy.

11. Makes us feel good

12. Decreases mortality by 33%

13. It alleviates long-term depression by increasing serotonin levels.

14. Fuels the brain’s stress buffers making us feel less stressed immediately after and helps us cope with future life stressors.

15. Increases our resilience to emotional stress, especially those who have suffered trauma, as it decreases the lasting, damaging effects of traumatic experiences.

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Movement shouldn’t be hard work, it is about feeling good and being present in our body. Unfortunately, normally when we move, we focus on aesthetic goals, which takes us away from how it makes us feel. Focusing on the aesthetic means it also comes from a place of negativity which means we find it a chore. When we put the focus on engaging in exercise that is fun and nourishing, we will be more likely to stick to it.

There is also a misconception that movement must be intense and hard work, but this is not true. We reap the same health benefits from joyful movement as we do from higher intensity workouts. In fact, when we start focusing on moving our body for fun, rather than for weight purposes, we are more likely to stick to a regular routine.

What are your favourite ways to move your body?

I love strength training, bike riding, walking, swimming, dancing, hula hooping, hiking and playing outdoor games.  I also add a fun twist to any movement activity, from dancing when I am cleaning the house, to syncing workouts to music. What are your favourite ways to move your body? If you are struggling to come up with ideas, then you can try the circle of fun activity.

The circle of fun activity

Grab a piece of paper and write down any movement activities that you enjoy now, or that you used to enjoy as a child. This can be anything from rollerblading, to shopping, to running. Once you have a list, circle all the activities you think you would like to do now. Each week set a goal and pick one activity to try. 

If you need some inspiration, then here are some ways to move your body for fun.

·       Go for a nature walk or hike.

·       Put on your favourite music at home and dance around.

·       Go for a bike ride around your local park or bike track.

·       Go shopping!  This one gets your steps up and its fun!

·       Go out dancing for the night or try a dancing class.

·       Take a walking tour of your city or area. Create your own or join a tour. It is a great way to get to know your neighbourhood.

·       Try something new such as horse riding, indoor rock climbing, a yoga class or rollerblading.

·       Go to a water park, or theme park for the day.

·       Sign up for an obstacle course race or fun run with family or friends.

·       Go scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking or paddle boarding.

·       Have an active date with friends or family. Go trampolining, bike riding, roller blading or even put on an old 80s dance workout video.

·       Blow up a balloon and chase it around the house (this is super fun-also a great one to do with the kids)

·       Have a pillow fight with your partner or family. This one really gets your heart rate up and it is so much fun!

If you would like more support in healing your relationship to exercise, you can sign up for a FREE week on my Nourish Me: Your 12 step self-care guide to food freedom, fun exercise and body peace program HERE