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How to Add More Movement to Your Life

Continuing the series on building the foundational parts to developing your Strategic Wellness Plan the next topic to tackle is movement. How to get your body moving every day and make it a habit you enjoy.

I think it is safe to say that we all know we need to move – however, what movement means to one person is not the same thing that it means to another. And how to integrate movement consistently into your life can be as difficult as nailing Jello to a wall. Yet, it is important to figure out how to get that Jello to stick if you are going to increase your health span and put more living into your life. So how do you go about doing that?

Instead of telling you what to do, I find it helpful to first get clear about what movement means to you and your overall wellness objectives. To do this, you need to understand what you like to do and what will fit into your life. It is also helpful to acknowledge where you are starting from and where you want to go, then evaluate the gap and decide what will help you bridge this gap. Once you do this you will have a clearer picture of what type of daily movement will fit into your life so you can stay consistent and start seeing the results such movement will have on your health.

To help you through this process, let’s break this down a bit more. First let’s tackle and define what movements means to you. One way to do this is to look at what you have done in the past, what type of movement got you moving, and kept you moving. Did you play sports, did you or do you go to the gym, walk or run, swim or bike, maybe dance or Zumba, or none of the above or all of the above? If someone were to ask you to explain what type of movement you enjoy, what would you say? For this exercise, go ahead and write it down. To get you to move more you need to connect with what gets you moving in the first place.

Once you have an idea of what you have done in the past to get your body moving, take some time to define what you do not like to do. This may seem like an odd request, but many times people will start a program and find that they do not like it, which leads them to stop going to the gym or doing the program. When they stop it can be challenging to get going again. Part of understanding what will get you moving, and keep you moving, is to understand what will make you stop moving, then avoid programs or activities that incorporate those things.

Let me give you an example of what I mean by this so you can get your thoughts flowing. I happen to enjoy trail running. Given our love for being outside in the woods, my husband thought it would be fun to try our hand at mountain biking. I quickly found out that I do not enjoy mountain biking and that every time we were on our bikes in the woods the thought that constantly went through my head was “I hate this, I would much be rather running these trails.” So consequently I stopped going with my husband when he went for a ride. But fortunately, that didn’t stop me from going out to run the trails. If I thought that mountain biking was my only option to enjoy the trails, I might not go out there. I know that sounds absolute, but many people take this line of thinking which stops them from finding the parts they enjoy in many activities.

Coaching others, I have found that this simple thought exercise is overlooked or not taken as seriously as it should be. When I ask my clients to think through all their movement possibilities and define what they like and what they do not like, light bulbs seem to illuminate on things that they forgot brought them joy and things they would rather not do. Making this list of things you like and do not like is essential to understanding what will get you moving and keep you at it. Using my example above, trail running would be on my like to do list, mountain biking would be on my do not like to do list. What would be on yours?

There is one last step to this evaluation process, that is to write down what you are curious about and would be willing to try. As I mentioned above, I was willing to try mountain biking, after doing so, it went on my do not like list. Another thing I was willing to try was more weight lifting. In the past I was truly a cardio girl, but as I got older and starting doing more obstacle course races I quickly realized that I needed to work on my strength. Weight lifting was a bit intimidating to me, but I was willing to give it a try. After some variations of hitting the weights, I finally found a workout program that I enjoy and has helped build my strength.

The reason for explaining this is that many times you need to move through the uncomfortable to get to the point of comfort with anything you take on. Before you throw something on your do not like list, never gonna do it again, make sure you have worked through the uncertainty and tapped into the part you do like before you discard something entirely. Looking at my trail running vs. mountain biking experiment I loved the trails; I just didn’t like biking them. Find what you like, then find what helps you enjoy what you like.

Now that you are starting to get a clearer picture of what type of movement activities you will enjoy, let’s get really clear about where you are starting from. Just like starting an exercise program or routine that you find you do not like can inhibit you from sticking with it, so can jumping into a program or routine that is not a fit for where you are today. I know it can be disheartening to realize that you might not be in the shape you used to be, but don’t let that stop you from getting back out there, because you can! It just might take a little longer than you thought.

In financial planning we help people evaluate their risk tolerance for investments by taking into consideration their age, time horizon, investment experience, any current obstacles, and their ability to invest and save. You should do the same for your movement tolerance. Assess where you are in your lifespan (age), what you are capable of doing (physically), what types of exercise you enjoy, and what help you may want to enlist to get you to where you want to be.

I have seen time and time again people jumping in to where they think they should be only to find out that they cannot sustain the workout program or exercise routine because they were not physically ready for it. So take some time to evaluate how ready you are for any type of movement you wish to take on. There are many ways you can test to see where you are starting from. If it has been awhile since you have exercised or moved consistently, it might be a wise use of your time to meet with a certified personal trainer to evaluate your current status and discuss a plan to get you to where you want to be.

If you do not want to do that, then there are ways to test how fit you are at home. The following two articles are good resources to start with, or you can do a search on fitness tests for adults for other resources. From the Mayo Clinic: From Wellnessed: If you have any general or health concerns, get guidance from a certified personal trainer, a physical therapist, or qualified health professional before you start any routine.

Building awareness around where you are starting from helps you discover what type of movement fits best in your life – today. Once you get yourself moving more you will discover other movement habits and activities you enjoy, expanding your list of things you like to do. This is a process and a journey, one that I hope you will find enjoyable as your body, mind, and overall health starts to improve with each step you take.

When you are able to define what type of movement you enjoy and what you do not, you have a clearer picture of what you like to do physically and what will integrate best into your life so you will stick with it. Building awareness to where you are today helps you see the gaps between your current status and your vision of your best well self. This can be challenging because you might be facing a reality that you haven’t wanted to face, but if you want to feel good in your body, expand your health span, and put more life into your living, it is an extremely important process to go through.

If it helps, enlist others to provide support and encouragement along the way, such as a certified health and wellness coach, a personal trainer, or other qualified fitness professional. There are people out there who really do want to help you achieve your wellness goals, don’t ever feel like you have to do this by yourself!

To your health & longevity!


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