sports, athletics, athletes

Mindful movement: Finding pleasure in your body

Since we’re all tuned in to the World Health Organization (WHO) for advice these days, I’d like to stay focused on the WHO, but switch gears and talk about mindful movement. 

There’s no denying that our lives have changed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many have lost their jobs, worry about paying bills and getting enough food to eat. Others are more fortunate and get to work from home. No matter where we are, and what we are going through, this pandemic is new to all of us, and I like to think that we’re all doing the best we can.

When it comes to exercise, or what I prefer to call mindful movement, I think a refresher, from the organization that we’re all trusting, may be warranted. But before I pull info from their website, I’d like to state that not moving your body: resting, sleeping, spending time with friends and family is all more than okay. Many of us might be struggling with body image, recovering from compulsive exercise, or eating disorders, so please take this information subjectively and consult with your healthcare providers on what is best for you.

The World Health Organization recommends:

  • At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or a combo that works for you!
  • Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least 10 minutes duration.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities should be done involving major muscle groups on 2 or more days a week.

So whatcha think? Does 150 minutes feel realistic? Is this the same information you are getting from your gym that has gone virtual? Or that fitspiration instagram account you follow? It’s certainly not the same information I’m seeing, which is why I wanted to provide a little clarity. 

First and foremost, every body is different. If we all adopted the exact same exercise regimen for the next 4 weeks, we would all have different outcomes. No one better than the other. There is nothing wrong with you if you don’t get the beach body that the thin privileged, fitspiration model was genetically born to attain. I repeat, there is nothing wrong with you or your body. That is the beauty in size diversity, we are all uniquely different and beautiful in our own ways. This may be a lot harder to see when your feed is crowded with one unattainable image.

So what is mindful movement? 

Mindful movement is rejuvenating, it enhances the mind-body connection, and alleviates, rather than amplifies, stress. It provides genuine enjoyment and pleasure. Do you think about your workout regimen in this way? You absolutely can! 

What type of movement brings you joy? Is it dance? Can this movement bring you back to your favorite concert in the sun? Night out with girl friends? That sounds stress-relieving to me. Or is it walking for 30 minutes, looking at the newly blooming plant life in your neighborhood? Pleasurable, indeed. The key to unlocking mindful movement is turning inward. Forget what others are doing, what type of movement increases your energy? Improves your mood? 

If you’re having a hard time believing that mental and physical benefits can be derived from activity that doesn’t break your back, ask several researchers who have studied and shown that “deriving pleasure from physical activities may be one of the most important factors for sustaining consistent exercise”. Paying attention to how your body feels during, and after, exercise is one way of finding pleasure in movement. If you’re ready to ditch the 30-day plank challenge, and get curious about what feels good for you, ask yourself the following questions as you challenge diet culture and start to respect your individual and benevolent body’s needs? 

Do you like to exercise alone? Or do you prefer group classes?

Do you enjoy working out inside, at a gym, in your home? Or do you prefer the outdoors?

How do you want to feel after movement?

Is there any exercise you find yourself laughing or smiling while engaging in this activity?

What type of movement makes you proud of your beautiful body? 

Allows you to connect with others?

Releases those feel good endorphins?

Makes you want to share your experience with others?

These several prompts may help guide you in reflection as you shift your mindset from intense, calorie-burning, fat-blasting mode to pleasurable, rewarding and rejuvenating activity. What ways do you like to move your body? I get very excited hearing about your success! Let me know on instagram @benevolentbodies