It’s easy to fall off the exercise bandwagon if it’s an all-or-nothing proposition; sometimes people will have periods of time they don’t want or have the motivation to keep doing the same routine. And newer research has found that an overly-structured approach to physical activity can hinder the long-term benefits of exercise. By taking a more flexible approach, “intuitive exercise” focuses on looking forward to participating in an activity that feels right for the day and for your body.
Much like “intuitive eating”, “intuitive exercise” allows the individual to decide what feels natural for their body on any given day; it might be a brisk walk, it could be strength training or it might be a yoga or stretching class. Older adults may benefit greatly by taking an approach to exercise that celebrates what their physical function allows for on any given day; a positive attitude helps make exercise something to be enjoyed. Rather than dreading a daily treadmill session, what if movement was more in tune with your body’s needs?
According to a recent U.S. News report, intuitive exercise focuses on the joy of movement and becomes a practice of self-care rather than an unpleasant task that one must do in order to lose weight, atone for a decadent meal or achieve a certain body image. This shift in mindset helps prevent people from giving up when they aren’t getting the desired results, progress is slow or they fall off the wagon for some reason.
It stands to reason that if you enjoy a particular physical activity, you will continue to make it a habit and reap the benefits of moving more. So many factors affect how our body functions on any given day, and feeling guilty for not meeting expectations can actually sabotage a strict exercise routine. Accepting that one day you may feel great and enjoy a 3-mile run while other days the body may need a rest is an important part of keeping momentum and not giving up completely. Trying to be kind to yourself and approach physical activity as a source of enjoyment, rather than an obligation can make all the difference.
Learn more about the intuitive movement and ways you can start to move more intuitively by visiting The Joy of Eating blog by dietitian and certified intuitive eating counselor Racheal Hartley here.