Participating in regular movement (i.e. physical activity or exercise) has proven benefits for both our minds and bodies. Here are some tools to help you move your body in a safe and healthy way.
The benefits of movement
Oftentimes, when we think of movement, we automatically associate it with a sweat-inducing workout at the gym. However, movement can take a number of forms, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, all types of movement are beneficial for our bodies and minds. Here are just a few of the benefits of moving your body:
Movement is a tangible and accessible coping mechanism for all abilities, fitness levels and ranges of mobility. It can also be a great outlet to meet people, build community and find support in tough times.
Evaluating our relationship with movement
While physical activity can benefit our mental health in many ways, it can also have a dark side. In some cases, we may use exercise as a way to exert control over our bodies, alter our appearance or use it to determine what we are allowed to eat. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating your own relationship with movement and exercise:
Intuitive relationship with movement:
- helps you feel connected with your body
- makes you feel stronger, more flexible or have greater endurance
- allows for rest and sick days
- helps you relieve stress and is enjoyable
- can move down on your priority list
- is responsive to your needs
- includes different types of movement
- is respectful of your body’s limits
Potentially harmful relationship with movement:
- is all or nothing
- allows for very few or no rest days
- must meet certain requirements to “count”
- doesn’t include breaks or time off for sick days or injuries
- feels like something you have to or are expected to do
- takes priority over other things in life (relationships, rest, socializing, etc.)
- causes you to feel upset or anxious if you miss a workout
- determines what you are allowed to eat based on activity level or calories burned
Shifting our focus and energy to activities that make us feel good, relieve stress and allow us to create a deeper connection with our body can help us to cultivate a more positive relationship with movement. It’s also important to remember that all forms of movement count toward your physical activity. Going for walks, practicing yoga, bird watching and other low-impact activities share many of the same benefits as intense workouts.
Making movement fun
Another way to build a more positive relationship with movement is to make it fun! Not only will you be more likely to engage in healthy movement, but it will also be easier to make it part of your routine if it’s something that brings you joy, improves your mood or helps you de-stress. Here’s how to get started:
There are so many different ways to move your body. Use these questions to figure out what kind of activities might speak to you:
Once you’ve answered these questions, we recommend completing our Physical Activity Rating Worksheet. This worksheet allows you to browse through different types of activities and rate the ones that are most interesting to you. It’s important to remember to start where you’re at and what is comfortable for you. If an activity seems too strenuous, look for ways to adapt it to your own abilities and needs.
Physical Activity Interest Worksheet
*You can complete this PDF worksheet by filling it out on your computer, printing it or taking a screenshot on your phone.
Resources to help you get started
Whether you’re looking for something new or starting out as a novice, there are resources at CU Boulder that can help you get started.
Get started with movement
Here are a few resources that can help you try new activities and find people to get active with!
Healthy habits and lifestyle
Here are a few resources to help you navigate healthy habits and lifestyle choices.
Injury prevention and treatment
Here are a few resources that can help you learn to exercise safely and prevent or treat injuries.