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Bringing the Joy Back to Movement

When I was a kid, I was convinced I wasn’t athletic. I felt uncoordinated and silly in gym class, and that translated into thinking I’d always be out of breath when I ran and that exercise wasn’t for me.

Luckily, there were a couple of things that I did feel okay about, and those were walking and hiking (which is basically just walking, but still).

As I grew up, I learned that I liked other types of movement, too, and branched out to exercise videos and the elliptical at the gym and even running a couple of half marathons.

Now, mostly, I’m back to walking, and that’s fine, because it makes me happy. And since it makes me happy, I keep doing it.

And that’s what I want for you. I want you to find a way of moving that adds to your life, and doesn’t feel like a burden.

How to make exercise more fun

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What’s your relationship with exercise been like? Were you a high school athlete, but as you got older you stopped exercising because you no longer play football/softball/field hockey? What did you like doing as a kid?
  • Have you found any type of exercise that you enjoy? Why did you stop doing it (if you have)?
  • What does exercise make you think of? Does it bring up negative or positive thoughts?

Now that you’ve answered those for yourself, you can make a plan of action.

If there’s a sport you loved as a kid, try looking for an adult league, or play it with your family (basketball in the driveway, bike riding on the greenway). Try to find the fun in it, and do it because of the joy, not the sweat.

If you found something you liked but stopped, figure out a way to start again. Perhaps you liked a yoga class but found it got too expensive. Try a video on YouTube; there are tons and tons of free ones. Maybe you liked dancing but feel uncomfortable doing it in front of other people. I’ll direct you to YouTube again; you can dance at home when nobody’s watching!

If you have negative associations with exercise, it’s time to shift your beliefs. Much like my negative experiences in gym class kept me from participating in sports, your thoughts, such as “exercise is something I have to do, but I hate it” or “there’s no such thing as fun exercise” are limiting you.

Try shifting to something like “maybe there’s some sort of movement I’d enjoy” or “maybe if I walked with a friend it wouldn’t be so bad.” It really will help you want to move more, I swear.

Now it’s time to take action. Pick something to try. Mark your calendar or download an app to help keep you accountable. Take one step forward today, and another tomorrow. Buy new sneakers or a new sports bra if you need them.

I can you from experience that you can go from loathing exercise to loving it. You can find something you want to do just because it’s fun for you. You can learn to enjoy moving your body. Get started today.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • VickieSue
    12 months ago

    I love walking when it is cool enough.But right it is very hot.I am going through some depression now and not wanting to leave home do anything.

  • Margot moderator
    12 months ago

    Thinking of you @VickieSue – thanks for sharing with us. We hear you – it’s hard to get our when it’s so hot outside – I know many have commented on our posts that they like to swim, or walk inside (in a mall for instance) or in the morning or evening when it’s cooler out for exercise when it’s hot out. Some others have mentioned exercise videos as well, if staying home. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been going through this depression lately. Please know that we are here for you, and be sure to take care of yourself and that you are getting the care you need and deserve. Many have found it helpful to speak with a professional counselor or therapist. Though we are not health professionals, feel free to reach out to us any time as well. We’re here for you. Warmly, Margot, Team

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