Joyful Movement: It’s a Thing, and Here’s How to Do It

joyful movement

It was the wise Elle Woods, in Legally Blonde, who said the renowned quote: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” We’ll leave the last part of the quote off for obvious reasons but she really summed it up in two short sentences. Exercise, or really movement, should be joyful. Enter: Joyful movement. 

Often, fitness is flogged as a “challenge” or a “bootcamp” which there’s nothing wrong with, it’s just that exercise is not a one size fits all approach. There’s also been a lot of promotion, from fitness centres and media websites alike, around shedding the “quarantine 15” weight gained during this shared global pandemic (everyone, please be kinder to your body). 

We’re not here to tell you what works for you and what doesn’t achieving a new goal or personal best is always something to be proud of. It’s just that sometimes, things need to be framed differently for people to enjoy it. In fact, according to the ABC, some experts recommend an approach that doesn’t focus on weight or size.

One study defined joyful movement as “movement that encourages positive experience”, further clarifying that it also involves awareness of the body during movement, the discovery of the possibilities of movement, and yes, challenging the body. Or as Jenny Weiner, Philadelphia-based body-positive psychotherapist, wrote for Philly Mag, “joyful movement encourages physical activity that is actually pleasurable”.

So what counts as joyful movement? Well, that’s entirely up to you. What do you find joyful? One way to discover it, suggested by Weiner, is to figure out what way you’d move your body if it had no effect on your weight or physical appearance. Maybe it’s dancing around the house with the music turned up way too loud, or it’s yoga, beach swimming, a bushwalk, even a walk in the park. Maybe it’s still weights, a fitness class or bootcamp and that’s fine. It’s what’s joyful movement for you not for anyone else. 

Pair it with mindful eating and experience the transformation not of your body, but of your mind and how it relates to your body.

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