Movement Is Medicine

Movement and exercise, spring 2024, benefits of exercise, exercise and mental health, movement is medicine, functional medicine

Life is movement. This simple statement holds profound truth. From the first flutter of a butterfly’s wings to the constant dance of atoms in our bodies, movement is the essence of life itself. And yet, as we emerge from the colder, quieter months of winter, many of us find ourselves feeling sluggish, stiff, and unsure of how to re-embrace the joy of movement.

I often use the analogy of bears and their need to hibernate in the winter and how they activate in the spring. There is no shame in sitting still. In fact, it is a crucial part of the way our systems replenish expended energy – intentional rest. Following the cues of nature, after a sedentary winter, it’s natural to feel a pull towards activity in the spring.

After hibernating, bears exhibit a period of activity that includes exploring, foraging, playing, and chasing. The movement of animals is a core part of who they are. It fuels their energy, strengthens their bodies, and keeps them mentally sharp. Just like bears we are designed to move in the spring.

But what are the obstacles that keep us from embracing this inherent need? Often, it’s the perception of movement as a dreaded chore. We focus on the physical discomfort of starting, the perceived lack of time, or the fear of failure. This negative association can lead to inaction, perpetuating a cycle of physical and mental stagnation.

Here’s your permission slip to reframe your thinking! Forget the drudgery and pain of “getting started.” Instead, discover the joy of movement.

The benefits are undeniable:

  • Physical health: Movement strengthens muscles and bones, improves cardiovascular health, and boosts the immune system. Movement is known to reduce the risk of chronic disease and is a helpful tool for increasing muscle mass and optimal body composition.
  • Mental well-being: Physical activity releases endorphins, which naturally elevate mood. Movement is a tool that combats stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Emotional well-being: Building on the mental health benefits of movement, it is also a natural way to release emotional energy, and can foster a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.
  • Energy: Not only does movement help to release negative energy, it also helps to build positive energy that creates joy and even focus.
  • Sleep: Movement helps us to release excess energy, which leads to deeper, more restful sleep.

Remember, we are not separate from nature but part of its rhythm. As the seasons shift from the stillness of winter to the vibrancy of spring, our bodies naturally crave increased movement and connection with the outdoors.

So, how do we transform the idea of movement as a chore to embracing it as a joyful act? Here are a few ideas:

  • Find activities you genuinely enjoy: This could be anything from gardening or walking to dancing or playing a sport. The key is to choose something that sparks your interest and makes you smile. I’m saying: Don’t go running if you hate it.
  • Embrace the social aspect: Find a friend or group to exercise with. The sense of community and shared experience can be a powerful motivator and source of enjoyment. Movement doesn’t have to be a solo event.
  • Reframe the perspective: Instead of dreading the workout, reframe the perspective that exercise is a reward. You can do things that are fun AND active. Be grateful for the opportunity to move your body.
  • Focus on the present moment: Focus on the present sensation of movement. Notice the rhythm of your breath, the feel of your body moving through space, and the beauty of your surroundings.
  • Celebrate small victories: Acknowledge your progress. Each movement you take, each activity you complete, moves you towards a healthier and happier you.
  • Move your body for things you enjoy: I make sure to keep moving throughout the year so I can fully enjoy activities like hiking and snowboarding with my family. Movement that connects with your passion helps give you the energy and strength to move past the hard parts of moving after being sedentary.

Embrace the joy of motion, reconnect with your body, and let movement become the medicine that nourishes your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Together, let’s move towards a spring filled with vitality, laughter, and the joy of being fully alive.

If you are looking for ways to incorporate joyful movement into your everyday life, why not look to functional medicine for ideas?  I can help you transform your lifestyle from what was a sedentary winter into an active spring. Let’s create a personalized plan just right for you! I offer a complimentary conversation for new patients. Contact me by calling 303-688-6698 or scheduling online.

Colorado Natural Medicine & Acupuncture uses functional medicine to serve the Denver, Castle Rock, and Parker communities.

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