Reader Challenge

Positivity Challenge Week 12: Get Out and Move!

Continuing in our effort to internalize positivity, this week I’m going to tackle a somewhat contentious topic: Exercise. In fact, I’m going to try and use the word exercise as little as possible. How about we call it “Movement”? Getting up and moving can be one of the hardest things to actually start doing, but the rewards can boost your positivity and mood in general more than anything other than pharmaceuticals practically.
You’re heard it before and you’ll hear it again after this: Exercise releases endorphins. Beyond the effects that physical fitness has on your body, the effects it has on your mood and mental health can be even more powerful. Some studies have shown that it can even make your brain process information more effectively. From personal experience, I can vouch for the boost in energy and mood that comes along with an increase in my level of activity.

A photograph of triangle bars on a playground
(Image: Under, Through, Across, a Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivative-Works (2.0) image from t_o_a_o's photostream)

It’s really hard to know where to start, though, especially if you’re not already in a habit of getting some movement into your day. I’m going to break down some suggestions based on your current level of activity. As always, please remember that these suggestions may not be applicable to everyone and use your best judgement as to what will work best for you. You know your body much better than I do. And of course, please consult your doctor before drastically changing your level of activity, especially if you have ongoing health concerns.

Current Level of Activity: Non-Existent
Description: For one of a variety of reasons, you find it really difficult to get moving. It could be a physical disability, severe depression, or a variety of other reasons. I feel you, I really do.
Suggestion: Start small. Build up the levels of activity. Take a five minute walk outside (in an area that is safe to do so). Just five minutes, as often as you can. If it’s once a day, great. If it’s every other day, that’s good, too. You can do this from home or during your lunch or other break at work. Use this five minutes to breathe in deeply; get that oxygen and fresh air flowing through you. Look around you. Look up at the sky and focus on the blueness of it, or the size of the clouds, or the color of the rainclouds that are bringing some fresh rain. Look at your surroundings and find the beauty in the grass, trees, flowers, or buildings around you. Go back home and enjoy a large glass of water. If you feel up to increasing the time on subsequent walks, go for it.

Current Level of Activity: Mostly Sedentary, But Able-Bodied
Description: You have a desk job, or a work at home job where you don’t move much other than going back and forth from your car or the bathroom or the kitchen. You want to move more, but by the time you’re done for the day, you just want to crash on the couch and watch 30 Rock on all five syndication channels.
Suggestion: Okay, I’m going to give you some tough love here. If you feel like you *should* be getting up and doing something, you should just go do it instead of making yourself guilty for not doing it. Set some small, but attainable goals for yourself. Walking or Cycling for 10 or 15 minutes, three times a week. Three Sun Salutations every other morning. Doing two laps around the block with your dog every day. If you don’t make your goals one week, don’t beat yourself up… just start fresh the next week. Work your way up to larger goals. WebMD has has a great Fitness 101 Guide for those looking to start a fitness routine.

Current Level of Activity: On Your Feet All Day
Description: Stay at home moms (especially of toddlers); retail employees. You’re up and about all day, so by the time you have some “free time,” doing anything else that involves standing on your feet is your idea of hell.
Suggestion: You’re already moving a lot and in all likelihood, your body is probably sore by the time you get home. You don’t have a lot of time to spare, but when you do, try to work in something low-impact like swimming or yoga.

Current Level of Activity: Moderate
Description: I get to the gym every so often. Every few days. Well, at least once a week. Hey, sometimes twice on the weekends!
Suggestion: Commitment is probably your downfall more than lack of wanting to get more active. Team up with a buddy for walks or gym visits or set a definite goal for yourself like completing a 5K.

Current Level of Activity: I Like To Move It, Move It
Description: You already exercise pretty regularly, but are either plateauing or finding yourself getting bored with your current. It’s become a chore for you, instead of enjoyable.
Suggestion: Change it up. If you’re just doing cardio machines or walking, throw a class or two in your rotation, such as Zumba or Piloxing. Zumba’s huge at the moment, and you can probably find a local free class once or twice a week with some googling. If you’re already a class-rat, try slowing it down a little with some yoga, either at home or in a class setting. Or take it vertical and find a rock climbing gym in your area.

Current Level of Activity: I Love Exercise And I’m 100% Happy With What I’m Doing
Suggestion: Did you just come here to brag? We love that you love what you’re doing. Everyone could use a little change up every so often, so maybe think about that, but if it’s working for you, you keep it up! But thanks for reading this far.

Other Persephone Articles Worth Checking Out:

This Week’s Challenge

Get out there and move! Figure out what works for your current level of activity, and move at least once this week. Notice how you feel afterwards. Does your head feel a little clearer? Do you feel a little more energized? Focus on that the next time you’re heming and hawing about whether to work out or not.

This Week’s Mantra

All all purpose movement mantra, courtesy of Daft Punk: (Work It) Harder (Make It) Better (Do It) Faster (Makes Us) Stronger.
A graphic with the words "Work It Harder, Make It Better, Do It Faster, Makes Us Stronger." It is a quote from a Daft Punk song.

If you want a reminder of your mantra for the next week, feel free to click the image above to download the full-size version suitable for desktop wallpapers, printing, or framing.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional or mental health expert, and there are problems that positivity cannot overcome, so please do not take this advice in lieu of a doctor’s care.

Not all challenges will be relevant to everyone, so I welcome you to come and go as you please and take from each challenge what works for you! Please make sure to share your thoughts in the comments!

By Crystal Coleman

Florida girl living on the west coast. During the day, I consult in social media and community management. I have a really cute puppy (Elphaba) and a British husband (I keep him for his accent) as well as an unhealthy relationship with parentheses.

15 replies on “Positivity Challenge Week 12: Get Out and Move!”

I am terrible at motivating myself to get active. I walk to and from the bus, and occasioanlly have dance parties in my kitchen while cooking or doing the dishes but otherwise I sit at a desk all day and then get hom and sit on the couch.

My question for you ladies is about morning exercise. I’ve tried once or twice to be active in the morning when I wake up as I find that to be a more productive time of day for me, but running/doing cardio on an empty stomach makes me feel ill and doing the same thing right after eating makes me feel bloated and slow. I tend to just scarf buttered toast and coffee in the morning, nothing particularly heavy. Does anyone else have this issue? Any advice? I’d really really appreciate it!

That’s a tough one. Have you tried making some kind of smoothie in the morning pre-workout? The liquidy texture might go down easier than carbs and caffeine, and help you feel like you have just the right amount fueling you? You could portion up all the fruit in advance, and just pop that in a blender with some yogurt, juice, or whatever you like and drink that while getting ready?

Anyone else have advice?

I exercise three to four times a week, and the impact it has had on my mood CANNOT be overstated. Before I started working out a year ago, I felt tired, sad, gross, unmotivated, and depressed. My relationship wasn’t going well, and things were generally ucky.

I got motivated to work out when I went to the doctor for some anti-anxeity meds, and she said, you need to get your heart rate up for 30 min 5 times a week. And instead of being totally overwhelmed by the prospect, like I have in the past, I was all, you’re right! So I started with just getting on the elliptical machine for 30 min. It was really hard at the start, but I wasn’t doing it to be fit, I was doing it for my health (which was vastly different than all the other times I had tried to start a fitness routine in the past).

Now, I feel more positive about where I am in my life than I ever have, really.

yay Moving!!

Well I might be cheating a bit with having a part time job and therefore making my work out the biggest priority of the day (and not being tied down by time much).

I would build it up, if I were you. Set the alarm, start with the warming up for two weeks (depending on how often you have the time) and build it up until you suddenly realize that if you don’t do it, you feel like you’re skipping class and your body is confused. It simply has to become a part of your rhythm. Write your morning rhythm down and squeeze yoga in, so that you have the satisfaction of ticking of boxes.

Just do eeeeeeeeeeeeet ;)

My current movement targets: I walk to and from work every day (30 mins 5 times a week); do a boxing fitness class once a week, and yoga once a week. I’m hoping as I get a little more used to putting formal exercise into my routine I’ll be able to add a bootcamp class at the weekends as well.

I like the way you’re mixing it up! If I was more of a morning person, I would try to bike into work, but as it is, I make sure to park in the garage that doesn’t have a shuttle, so it forces me to get a good ten minute walk in each way. I probably look ridiculous as I strut in while listening to Beyonce, but it starts my day off right.

Thank you! I love walking, and my city has a free bike rental scheme as well which I’d use maybe once a week too.  I do one class with friends which is much more of a motivator than I thought it would be – it’s something I’ll have to remember. I’m not great at doing tough cardio by myself!

First, you get an A+ for incorporating Daft Punk into your post! Second, I agree that “movement” is a far better concept than “exercise.” The time I spend playing with my dogs is just as good for me as the time I spend on the treadmill. Working in the yard is a great workout. We tend to have such a narrow view of “exercise” that we forget how to incorporate all kinds of movement into our lives.

Moving is so important in my life.  If I’m exercising regularly and sleeping enough, I can live a pretty normal life.  When I stop exercising for a while, my anxiety issues start to get out of control, I get lethargic and apathetic, and I don’t sleep as well.  It’s a much better motivation for exercising regularly than losing weight, let me tell you.

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