How To Become One Of Those People Who Likes Exercise

In 2019, it could be you — and the secret is surprisingly simple.

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When many of us think about things that bring us "joy," we think about sleep, puppies, chocolate, Netflix, or Marie Kondo’s viral organising method — not necessarily exercise. Exercise usually makes us think about working out, which makes us think about planks, mean personal trainers, sweat, sore muscles, smelly gyms, and people grunting at nobody in particular in the weight room.
It’s not your fault if this is how you currently feel about exercise. If you grew up in the era of diet culture, fitness trackers, and calorie-counting, you might be under the impression that working out is just penance for poor eating choices, and if you’re not suffering it doesn’t "count" as exercise. This, combined with incessant messaging that the arrival of a new year is an opportunity to finally reach a certain number on the scale, creates the perfect storm for you to embark on a gruelling workout regime only to abandon it a few weeks later.
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That's why, starting on Jan. 1, Refinery29 will be exploring the concept of "joyful movement" over the course of three weeks. It's a workout philosophy that focuses on physical activities and ways of moving your body that make you happy. Some researchers have defined joyful movement as activity that encourages a positive experience, body awareness, and challenges. Other body positive advocates and intuitive eating experts have simply labeled it the opposite of exercising for weight loss. But "joyful movement" means something different to everyone, because we all have different things that bring us joy.
Chances are you can think of at least a handful of activities that are enjoyable to you, such as dancing, hiking, practicing yoga, or jump roping. The problem is we’ve all been conditioned to believe that these types of activities don’t “count” as exercise, because they’re fun, can take place outside of the gym, and don’t feel like a struggle.
But, according to the most recent guidelines on physical activity for adults laid out by the Journal of the American Medical Association, every little bit of movement throughout the day — from chasing your dog at the park to doing chair stretches at work — counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week.
Reframing your typical workouts or daily activities as actions that nurture your body, rather than ones that break it down, is easier said than done. And sure, walking into your local gym or signing up for a pricey boutique fitness class might be an easy way to get started, but if you don’t truly enjoy these pursuits, you’re unlikely to stick to them.
Yes, you’ll find indoor cycling and boxing classes in our suggestions, but you’ll also find rope, trampoline jumping, and a big relaxing stretch — things that you probably did in your childhood and that made you really happy. So with this 21-day plan, we hope to help you prioritise movement, change your relationship to exercise, and find joy as you challenge yourself to reach your goals.
Joyful Movement is part of Clean Slate, Refinery29’s 21-day course filled with new ways to think about food, exercise, and stress relief. Sign up here to get nutritious recipes, fun physical activities, and some suggestions to beat stress that don’t require meditation.
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