When you hear the word “exercise,” what thoughts come to mind? For many, this term is immediately associated with negative experiences, including grueling workouts, strict diets, and body shaming. However, as a movement coach who prioritizes body acceptance and empowerment, I’ve made the conscious choice to call it “movement” instead of exercise. In this post, I will share with you the reasons behind this choice and why I believe that movement is so much more than just a physical activity.
Movement is Inclusive
When we think of exercise, we often picture gyms, fitness classes, and expensive equipment. Many people feel excluded from this world due to their physical abilities, financial constraints, or personal preferences. Movement, on the other hand, encompasses a wide range of activities, from dancing to hiking to simply stretching in bed. Everyone can participate in and benefit from movement, regardless of their body size, shape, or ability level.
Dr. Linda Bacon, author of “Health at Every Size,” states, “Movement should be a celebration of what your body can do, not a punishment for what you ate or how you look.” This perspective aligns with the inclusive nature of movement, emphasizing its accessibility and joy.
Movement Enhances Mental and Emotional Wellbeing
Yes, regular movement can improve our strength, flexibility, and endurance. But it can also enhance our mental and emotional wellbeing. Studies have proven that movement can reduce stress and anxiety, boost mood and self-esteem, and even improve cognitive function. When we focus on joyful movement that feels good to us, we are not only benefiting our bodies, but also our minds.
Movement Encourages Body Trust and Intuition
Movement coaching prioritizes body and mind connections, allowing us to listen to our needs and desires. By focusing on sensation rather than outcome, we learn to trust and respect our bodies. This, in turn, can lead to better overall health and wellness.
As noted by intuitive eating expert Evelyn Tribole, “Listening to your body is the essence of a respectful and attuned relationship with food and movement.” This approach fosters a deeper understanding and appreciation of our bodies.
Movement as a Celebration
When we approach movement with a sense of curiosity and playfulness, we can experience a sense of freedom and joy. It becomes less about looking a certain way and more about feeling alive and connected.
In conclusion, the word “exercise” carries a lot of baggage and negative connotations. By redefining it as movement, we can create a more positive, inclusive, and empowering approach to physical activity. As a movement coach, my priority is to help my clients reconnect with their bodies, find joy in movement, and cultivate body trust. Whether you enjoy yoga, hiking, dancing, or simply walking in nature, movement is accessible and beneficial to all. So let’s drop the “no pain, no gain” mentality and embrace the power of movement as a way to honor and appreciate our bodies.
1. Bacon, L. (2010). Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight. BenBella Books.
2. Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works. St. Martin’s Griffin.
3. “The Mental Health Benefits of Exercise,” HelpGuide. [Online]. Available: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/the-mental-health-benefits-of-exercise.htm