Reframing the Conversation Around Exercise
One thing that’s made me very happy since the world turned upside down a few months ago is the current collective focus on exercise for reasons unrelated to appearance.
What matters most right now is feeling good in your body, both mentally and physically — not getting flat abs or looking good for beach season (here in California, they just took our beaches away from us anyway).
Instead of working out mainly for looks, the conversation has shifted to exercising to:
- Feel strong, mentally and physically
- Keep our immune systems healthy
- Build resilience
- Better manage stress and anxiety
- Connect with others
- Use this time as “alive time” instead of “dead time” (See Ryan Holiday’s work for more on this)
- Come out of this stronger than ever, together
Moving your body in ways that feel good to you every single day. Ideally, you’ll alternate between getting your heart rate up, doing resistance work, and mobility/flexibility work. And walks. Lots of walks.
Focusing on nutrition, not to reach a certain weight, but for overall health. Treat food as fuel more than ever right now. Pay attention to how food makes you feel immediately after eating it, then again later in the day. Eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods, and lots of vegetables. Limit junk foods and processed foods not just because of the calories, but because they don’t make you feel good or help you function at your best.
Exercising outside. This means anything from doing an outdoor HIIT workout, going for a run, or taking your dog for long walks a few times a day. Fresh air and natural light do wonders for our overall well-being.
If you can, use this time as a chance to build a new skill or learn something new. Long-term goals are helpful for our brains during times of uncertainty because they give us something to work toward and force us to be future-focused. Pick something you’ve always wanted to do and break it down into manageable steps you can take on a daily or weekly basis.
If all of this is too overwhelming for you right now, don’t overthink it. All you need to remember is to get in some movement, whatever feels best, every single day.