Movement is medicine

Don’t endure it–enjoy it.

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Emma Hester, The Horizon

Let movement be a source of joy!

Riley Potter, Staff Writer

If you have taken Fit for Life with Dr. Nwaokelemeh, you have likely heard her say, “Exercise is medicine.” And truly, it is. The benefits of consistently moving one’s body are varied and vast. Movement reduces the risk of heart disease, makes it easier to fall asleep, and even helps improve our moods. 

The endorphins released during exercise not only help your physical health, they also boost your mental capacities. What college student couldn’t use a brain boost? Ultimately, we should move because we get to, because we exist in bodies that deserve to be moved, because moving is — or should be — a joy. 

We all know the benefits of exercise, but so often we decide to not move our bodies. If we do move, it’s often for the wrong reasons. Exercise tends to have a negative connotation in our brains as something we must do in order to punish ourselves, “cancel calories” or look a certain way. Instead of viewing movement or working out as something we do to our bodies, I would encourage you to instead look at exercise as something we can do with our bodies, for our bodies. 

There are so many ways to move, and no two look quite the same. The key to moving consistently comes from finding a form of activity that actually brings you joy. Ultimately, if you hate what you’re doing, you probably won’t stick with it. If you strongly dislike running, don’t force yourself to run. It’s as simple as that. 

No running? That might sound appealing to most people, but how does one move without running? Well, let’s take a look! I often talk to people who are stumped about ways to move. They aren’t into running — which is totally valid — and aren’t big into lifting weights and aren’t sure what else to do. 

Thankfully, we live in a digital world, so the list of activities one can do in one’s room is quite extensive. Not all of them even have to be “traditional” methods of exercising. Last year, my friends and I found Just Dance videos on YouTube and danced for song after song, often ending up a sweaty — but smiley — mess at the end of it. If you want to try other forms of dancing, check out Zumba classes, or maybe take some salsa lessons. If you love dancing, or even if you suck at it, dance! 

Dancing’s not your thing? Perhaps now is the time to try something new. Yoga is another spectacular option: you really just need a two-by-sixfoot space on the floor to make that happen. Yoga with Adriene or Sarah Beth Yoga are wonderful places to start. Yoga is a beautiful practice to work on fully integrating your mind, body and spirit. It’s easy on the joints and sweet for the soul.

Pilates is another way to move that is grounding, breath-focused and low-impact. 

There are so many more options out there if these aren’t striking your fancy. With biking, you can kill three birds with one stone: reduce your carbon footprint, get where you need to go, and move your body! Swimming is another great option as the Westmont pool is open for free swims on a regular basis. 

Tennis, pickleball, basketball, volleyball, spikeball, hiking, skating — move with your friends! Movement should be a joy, and what better way to augment that joy than by doing it with people you care about. 

Conversely, movement can be the perfect opportunity to make space for some much needed alone time in the midst of our very busy and social lives. You could commit to taking a walk every morning or evening by yourself while listening to the birds, to music or to a podcast as you mentally prep for your day or wind down before bed. 

 There are so many ways to move your body that are relatively straightforward and don’t cost any money! I encourage you to try a few out and, if you don’t like whatever activity you tried, simply move on and try something else. There is no shame in not enjoying every type of exercise. 

Ultimately, our bodies are incredible, and if you are able to move you should try to feel grateful for that gift every day. Movement is so, so good and each person should try and find a way to move that brings them joy and doesn’t feel like punishment. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that one type of movement is less valid or less worthy than another. 

Try to intentionally be active one, or maybe two, days this week. This practice will heighten your mental clarity, promote muscle and bone health, and make it easier to fall asleep at night. If you are already active, try to reframe your mindset around exercise and view it in a life-giving light. As long as you move your body and it brings you some type of delight, that is a success story in my book.

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Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

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