We have become ‘exercise’ obsessed. It’s no secret that the human body thrives from not sitting still, in fact I recently heard a quote that “sitting has become the new smoking” due to the amount of hours we sit in front of computers without leaving our desk for more than a 2 minute bathroom break. But, does that mean that ‘exercise’ is a must? That forcing yourself to go to a power yoga class after a stressful day at work, waking up at the crack of dawn to make it to spin after going to sleep far too late, or leaving work during your precious lunch BREAK to crank some iron at your gym is the solution? I have to argue that it’s not folks and frankly that your sleep is vital and that your lunch break is for BREAKING, ie, resting from the stress of your job! First and foremost we need to remember that every person is different. Their needs, desires, bodies, abilities, health status, strength, etc. are very different from the person sitting in the cubicle next to them. Therefore, it is counterintuitive to prescribe the same ‘workout regimen’ to everyone or even to a smaller group of people. We simply are not all built to handle the exact same movement or each of the latest and greatest exercise options in the same manner. For some, spin might be wonderful, it may bring joy and pleasure, and for others it might be a chore that feels “necessary for their health” that is actually destroying their bodies from the inside out leading to physical stress overload and a slew of negative side effects. What happened to simply moving? Moving, grooving, dancing, jumping, frolicking, swimming…there are so many forms of movement, why is it that we feel so compelled to choose the forms that “burn the most calories” simply for the reason? Why is it that we feel like we have to go weight lift because we know it will make our muscles look toned?

I ask you to question your motives before you make moves. Are you going to your power yoga class because you know you’re going to break a sweat and can justify having dessert that night? Are you going to the new gymnastics-based workout place that just opened because it seems like the cool thing to do and you have friends joining, but in your head it sounds awful? Why are you moving the way you move? I challenge you to move your body joyfully. Choose movement over ‘exercise.’ Choose movement that serves you, that brings you happiness, that gets you excited thinking about it. Perhaps this is swimming, dancing, hiking, skiing, taking strolls in the park, going to the nearest trampoline-filled warehouse, whatever it is, does it make you happy thinking about it or doing it?

I will say it again, I challenge you to choose joyful movement rather than exercise. The stress we may be putting on our bodies “slaving away at the gym” may actually be counterproductive and could actually be setting your physical health backward instead of forward. We need to be mindful of how we feel before and after the exercise we do. If you are fatigued an hour or two after the exercise or if you wake up the following morning feeling like you were hit by a truck, chances are you are pushing your unique, wonderful, INDIVIDUAL, body too hard. It doesn’t matter that your friend went to the same class and felt great. What matters is how YOU felt. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others. Social media makes this increasingly difficult, but we need to begin to try. In the realm of eating (or lack thereof) and physical activity it is especially important because your precious physical body is at stake.

Choose joy. Choose happiness. Choose you. #movejoyfully