6 Ways to Exercise for Mind, Body, and Spirit
Exercise can bring with it a slew of viewpoints from all over the map, providing advice on everything from the best way to run to how “everyone” should do HIIT workouts. In this blog I want to share my experience with exercise and six ideas for how to shift exercise from a practice based upon physical performance to one which incorporates the spiritual and mental aspects of movement.
My relationship with exercise has taken on many different forms over the years. Growing up I was constantly competing in basketball tournaments, performing ballet, or racing at swim meets. As I got a bit older, I put my emphasis on swimming and ended up competing in college for a few years before a shoulder surgery. I viewed practices and weight sessions in a highly competitive mindset, as things to accomplish and mental barriers to break through.
After I stopped swimming in college, I continued to exercise but it was more from a sense of routine. It was towards the end of college that I finally began to look at exercise not as something to simply “get done” but as a crucial piece of my overall wellness. This shift of perspective changed my relationship with working out and also with myself. It made me realize that working out does not always need to be a killer session in the gym. Though I love workouts that push me mentally and physically, some days I do not feel up to an intense workout. With that said here are six ideas for how you can move your body while also cultivating your mind and spirit in a setting outside of a traditional “workout.”
1. Meet a Friend for a Walk – I love catching up with friends during a walk. I am the type of person that can get fidgety sitting for long periods of time, so I prefer going on a walk versus meeting at a coffee shop. Whether you walk around a neighborhood, park, or shopping area, walking with a friend is a great way to bond while also getting a dose of movement.
2. Dance Around Your House – PreCOVID I loved going to salsa clubs to dance all night! Now a days, I enjoy dancing around my apartment to whatever music I am in the mood for. Whether by myself while cooking dinner or with friends around the living room, dance is a great way to connect to your body.
3. Yoga – With a wide variety of approaches and many schools of thought, you can take all sorts of approaches to yoga. From cardio infused flows to more stretching friendly practices. There is something to suit everyone.
4. Go on a Hike – There is nothing quite like going on a hike and enjoying nature. I love hiking as a way to connect to my body and connect to the natural world around me. Not only that but walking on uneven ground is the best place to build our kinesthetic awareness through activating all of the small muscles needed for balance. If you live in Houston here are 10 great parks with trails, and if you need help finding trails in your area, “trailforks” is a great app that shows paths all around the country.
5. Clean Your House – Chores like changing sheets, rearranging furniture, or vacuuming all work your muscles in small ways and have the benefit of making a clean environment. As the adage goes, a clean space = a clean mind.
6. Walk or Bike When Possible – If you live in an area which allows you to walk or bike to work, school, or the grocery store, do it! You will benefit physically from the movement, mentally from time outside, and spiritually from slowing down. Not only that but the less time spent driving, the better.
I hope these six ideas can spur you to view exercise not as simply a task to get done but as a way to add a little more movement into our life whenever we get the chance.