How To Start Exercising Again

Let’s talk about one of the magical activities that’s important for whole body health!

We’re talking beneficial to muscles, mind, joints, heart, brain, immune system, gut… the list goes on. It also reduces the risk of cancers and disease and produces the feel good hormones.

Yep, it’s exercise… movement, whatever you want to call it!

Our neanderthal ancestors certainly didn’t sit on their butts all day! Our bodies were made to move and are supposed to be active.

And it’s no secret that it’s super important for our overall health but yet so many of us (including me) often find it hard to get the motivation to get up and do it on the daily. 

Why is that?

For many, they may tell themselves they are busy, too tired, or just downright exhausted already (I hear ya, especially if you’re one like me with an autoimmune condition!) For others, especially those with kids or those who lead such busy lives, they crave some ‘downtime’ rather than more ‘hard work.’

But exercise doesn’t need to be equated with hard work.

Which is why I often refer to exercise as movement. It doesn’t have to be a tough workout – it can be whatever you make it.  It’s ok to drop (right now) any rigid definitions of what you think that exercise should look like – it doesn’t have to be long and unenjoyable. It’s ok for it to be gentle if need be, and it should be rewarding and enjoyable…

Exercise and movement for me, comes from a place of maintaining health – not aesthetics.

I’m a big advocate in movement as a means of achieving whole body health. For the way it benefits energy, mood, sleep, inflammation, stress and the immune system.

The most important thing is that you’re moving on the daily, stretching, getting your heart rate up a little, and getting your lymphatic system moving.

As someone with previous adrenal fatigue issues, I actually prefer gentle exercise so as not to fatigue my body. But I must move my body, or it becomes unhappy – I start to get stiff and achey!

 

I like to move it, move it – for my lymphatic system

The lymphatic system is a complex network of tissues and organs that consists of lymph vessels, nodes and fluid. It’s vital to the function of the immune system, fighting infections and detoxification. It essentially acts like a rubbish truck collecting waste and toxins, and disposing them via organs such as the bladder, bowel and skin.

And the only way to get lymph moving is manually, and this can be achieved through movement and exercise!

As someone with an autoimmune condition – movement of any kind – is essential in managing my symptoms and for detoxification. Our immune and circulatory system work together. So to keep our lymphatic system working effectively, movement is going to help circulate body fluids, nutrients and oxygen to our cells.

It’s imperative to our overall health!

Prioritize it

My body knows that if I exercise and get moving… it’ll feel good afterwards… but I still need to prioritize it. I need to make the space and time for it. It rarely presents itself to me.

I’m not someone who particularly enjoys heading to the gym and I prefer to get my exercise through movement like walking, hiking, yoga, cycling or small classes. I also love throwing in a social aspect to my exercise.

 

Still… where do I find the motivation to move?

Don’t worry, motivation doesn’t always hit me like a ton of bricks either!

When I bring awareness to the fact that my mind is going to try to strike up it’s fiercest debate on the affirmative for Team Couch, I’m quick to start the rebuttal as to why my body will thank me tomorrow.

And despite, the sometimes internal debate, I still include movement into each and every day. Often in subtle ways through movement I enjoy, like a walk or a bit of impromptu yoga.

You see, when I get my body moving – on the daily – I feel better.  The more I do it, the more I feel the positive effects, and the more I  want to do it.

 

But, the key is choosing movement that you enjoy and commit to it!

And that might take experimentation and patience.

Which leads me to my personal love with yoga…

When I was someone who played tennis, who danced, who ran, who did crossfit to not doing anything again, I needed something that was relaxing on my adrenals and something that would kept me active. I never thought I would love the “slowness” of “stretching” but with it, I found yoga to be incredibly challenging but nurturing at the same time too. It was just what I needed and I am forever grateful for it. When I made a commitment to practicing a few times a week, the more I began to fall in love with the positive effects I got from it. So much so, that I got certified and became a Yoga Teacher because of it.

Yoga has became an imperative part of my self-care and it certainly helps me to calm me. My enjoyment for it is what led me to Yoga Teaching. Gentle stretching, twists and bends help keep joint and muscle pain away and get my lymphatic system moving.

I can also confidently say that yoga has helped me to reclaim my health from the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s – in both mind and body.

I’m certainly not telling you all to go out and start yoga… But what I am saying is to find your exercise zone.

Don’t do what you think you should do – do what you enjoy and what feels best for your body!

Some people spend the whole day sitting so they want to get up and get their heart rate pumping, while some lead really active lives, so they need something more restorative and calming like yoga.

Your choice of exercise is very personal.  It needs to suit you and your lifestyle for it to feel rewarding.  Think back to the sports or exercise that you liked to do as a kid. Often you’ll find you still enjoy the same thing!

Look for convenience and comfort. It’s important to find a spot that isn’t an effort to get to and where you feel comfortable and welcomed. This motivates you to want to go regularly.

 

Some other ideas that might be an enjoyable way to move:

  • Listening to music or podcasts while exercising is enjoyable and can be a great motivator

  • Exercise with another person can also help to keep you accountable.

  • Turn up your favorite song and dance around your house

  • Yoga – for it’s effects on the whole body and mind

  • Play a game (basketball, tennis….)

  • Find a group class that you enjoy – it’s a great social motivator (dance, spin, circuit…)

  • Get out in nature – go for a walk, hike, swim at the beach – the combination of fresh air and sunshine makes it a natural stress reducing activity

So experiment, take it slow and be patient – your body (and mind) will strengthen and be thankful for the time you are giving it.

The bottom line is… when you find your exercise mojo – you’ll start feeling the benefits and won’t find it so hard to want to do! 

MOVEMENTAlice Chen