The Joy of Movement: Finding Fun Ways to Stay Active and Fit

By Amalia Downey, nutrition intern

Movement – one of my favorite things to do and talk about. Staying active is not just about burning calories, but about embracing the sheer exhilaration of being in motion. From maintaining a healthy weight to boosting mood and energy levels, the importance of regular exercise cannot be overstated. But who says staying fit has to be a tedious chore? In this blog, we’ll uncover the benefits of movement and a plethora of fun and exciting activities that make staying active an absolute joy. So, whether you’re a dance enthusiast, a yoga lover, or a biking aficionado, join me as we explore exhilarating ways to infuse movement into our lives and embark on a journey towards a happier, healthier self.

Why Movement is Important

  1. Exercise can help with weight management – Engaging in regular physical activity, along with a balanced diet, helps control body weight by burning calories and increasing metabolism.
    • The current recommendations for physical activity are 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week! This may seem like a lot, but remember you can break it up anyway you choose! Perhaps you go for a walk for 15 minutes in the morning, and 15 minutes after dinner. 
  2. Exercise combats health conditions and diseases – Regular physical activity lowers the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Being active boosts high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This is also known as the “good” cholesterol as it decreases unhealthy triglycerides in your body. Say goodbye to being worried about heart disease and high blood pressure!
  3. Exercise improves mood – Regular movement has been linked to improved mood and a reduced risk of depression. It can also enhance self-esteem and self-confidence.
    • Movement stimulates brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier, more relaxed and less anxious. 
  4. Exercise boosts energy levels – Exercise sends oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. When your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.
    • Endorphins rise about an hour after exercise. The release of endorphins helps relieve pain, reduce stress, and boost your overall sense of well-being. 
  5. Exercise promotes better sleep – Regular physical activity can help regulate sleep patterns, leading to better quality sleep and increased energy levels during the day.
    • Moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. Slow wave sleep is also known as deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate. What an added bonus!
  6. Exercise can be fun and social – Participating in group activities or team sports fosters social connection, builds friendships, and provides a sense of belonging and community.
    • Physical activities can be done with as many people as you please! By finding people with similar interests, you can build your own community of exercise enthusiasts!

Fun Ways to Stay Active and Fit

  1. Strength training- Regular strength training can improve your strength and flexibility, and decrease your risk of injury and falls. Strength training can be intimidating so here is a breakdown of a couple different types:
    • Body weight: pushups, squats, planks, pullups, and lunges
    • Free weights: dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, or objects around the house
    • Resistance bands: rubber bands that provide resistance when stretched. These come is all different “weights”
    • Weight machines: these machines are typically found in gyms and have adjustable weight to provide resistance
    • Suspension equipment: consists of ropes or straps that are anchored to a sturdy point in which a person uses their body weight and gravity to perform various exercises. 
  2. Walking – An activity we engage in daily is walking. Although it is one of the simplest activities, it has several benefits, including improving your mood, achieving a healthy weight, lowering the risk of cardiovascular problems, improving sleep, delaying the onset of varicose veins, and stimulating your digestive system.
    • Walking can be done anywhere at any time! Perhaps you use some of your lunch break for a quick 15 minute walk, or choose to walk to the store rather than drive. Personally, I have been exploring new local walking trails near me and have loved being outdoors! 
  3. Dancing – regardless of the dance form, taking some time off to groove can be a simple yet effective technique to improve your health. Dancing improves motor coordination, cardiovascular health, respiratory functioning, muscle strength, flexibility, and more.
    • This is one of my personal favorite ways to stay active! I have been a dancer all of my life and plan to continue some form of it until my old age! The great thing about dance is it’s so versatile; you can sign up for a beginners class or simply dance in your kitchen to your favorite tunes! 
  4. Pilates – Pilates is a series of exercises inspired by calisthenics, yoga, and ballet. Pilates promotes mobility and strength of all the major muscle groups in the body in a balanced fashion, whilst also having a key focus on the deep core muscles.
    • Pilates has a reputation of being quite expensive – especially reformer pilates in which the reformer tables are used. Don’t let this stray you away! Many studios offer promotions and you can also look at groupon for special deals. If you don’t find any bargains, go over to youtube and find a free pilates video that fits your skill level!
  5. Yoga – Yoga improves flexibility through stretching and poses, while balance is enhanced through focused movements and body awareness. Hence promoting overall physical stability and coordination.
    • There are a ton of free yoga videos on youtube! They range from beginner to advanced so there is something for everyone. 
  6. Join a Rec League – Most local recreational centers offer adult sports leagues. For a small membership fee, you could sign up for everything from basketball and volleyball to ping pong or tennis.
    • Playing a sport is a great way to get active while meeting new people. Some people have even said that they don’t feel like they are exercising when playing a sport because it is so fun!
  7. Start Biking – Riding a bike is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to stay active. You can start out by simply riding around your neighborhood, and eventually build up to riding a dozen or more miles each week.
    • Biking could even potentially save you money. You can save on gas and vehicle maintenance costs by riding your bike to work or to a friend’s house, instead of always driving a car.

It’s clear that staying active isn’t just about checking off a list of exercises—it’s about embracing a lifestyle that prioritizes the exhilarating balance between body and motion. From the invigorating rush of strength training to the rhythmic beats of dancing, we’ve uncovered a plethora of ways to infuse our lives with vitality and zest. But beyond the physical benefits, we’ve also touched on the profound impact movement has on our mental and emotional well-being, from boosting mood to fostering social connections. Remember, the path to a healthier, happier you is not a destination but an ongoing adventure—one that promises endless opportunities for growth, exploration, and, above all, fun. So, here’s to embracing the joy of movement and living life to the fullest, one step, stretch, and dance move at a time!

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