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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

What is joyful movement, and why do we care?

Updated: Feb 12

In a previous post, I wrote about the idea that All Movement Counts, a liberating concept that reminds us that no matter the type, duration, or effort, all movement will bring a greater degree of health.  Beneficial movement can occur as part of your regular daily activities, can be restful and relaxing and fun, and doesn’t have to involve fitness trackers, sweaty sports bras, or shout-y fitness pros!


For those struggling to shift their relationship to movement, a further refinement is useful – the idea of joyful movement.


“…joyful movement focuses on rebuilding your relationship with exercise. Joyful movement is a way of approaching physical activity that emphasizes pleasure, choice, flexibility, celebration, and intuition.”  - Elle Schuldt


Here’s the thing – we may be so attuned to the messages about movement, exercise, and fitness that we receive from culture at large that we have NO IDEA what movement would be joyful for us! 


So, how do we ensure that movement will bring us joy?  Some tips…


  • Take a mindful moment before you commit to a particular kind or intensity of movement on a given day.  Take a breath and feel into your body.  What movement would feel good, or bring about the effect you most need?  Once you’re moving, stay aware of you how feel and make adjustments as necessary.

  • Keep it simple.  Emphasize daily movement over big, long-term goals.  Avoid goals related to calories or changing your body size.

  • Combine your movement activity with something you love.  Take a walk while listening to your favorite podcast, or push your grandkid on a swing at the park!

  • Try activities that are fun for YOU – skipping, roller skating, a swing dance lesson…

  • Invite friends, family, and pets.  No reason not to make movement a party!

  • Rest when necessary – whether you’re sore, fatigued, or just burnt out, taking a break is always ok, and often critical for maintaining your enthusiasm.


Why does this matter?


It’s probably obvious that movement you enjoy and that makes your body feel good will be movement you want to repeat! There are much bigger gains to be had, though...

  • Joyful movement returns agency over your body, your self-concept, and your health to YOU. 

  • Seeking and experiencing joy is like vitamins for our beleaguered, stressed out brains, and a critical reminder that there is more to life than the grind. 

  • Experiencing the physical pleasure of movement roots us back in our bodies.  Loving to move equates to enjoying our bodies, and helps to quiet negative body talk.


Joyful movement is a revolution in how we think about exercise.  What movement can you imagine doing that would bring you joy?


We’ll be exploring and experiencing joyful movement in my upcoming Winter Warm-Up Daily Movement Challenge, starting 2/18/24! Join us to make your movement a party!


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