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5 Steps to Joyful Movement

A guest piece by Olivia Macdonald. Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.

Before you read any further, let me ask you this; What is your motivation to exercise?

Is it…

To improve your fitness?


Manage your stress levels?

Or is it…

To lose weight?


Earn your dessert tonight?

For many, uncoupling exercise from weight loss or calorie burning can serve as a challenge, particularly if you have had a rocky relationship with food or body image in the past.

This post provides 5 steps to help you shift your focus away from the scales and bring more joy to exercise in your everyday life!

Step 1 – Focus on How it Feels

Keep track of how exercise makes you feel, both during and afterwards. Take mental notes or even jot them down on a piece of paper. Think about your stress and energy levels, are you able to handle stressful situations better? Can you concentrate for longer at work after exercise? Reflect on your general mood throughout the day and the quality of your sleep, do you possess a more positive outlook after bouts of exercise? Do you fall asleep quicker and wake up feeling re-energized?

Step 2 – Aim for Health Outcomes Outside of Weight. 


Remove the idea that weight loss is the only outcome of exercise, and try to celebrate the numerous health benefits that being active has to offer. Everyone can reap the benefits of exercise, including;

  • Improved mood
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved sleep and ability to relax
  • Improved satiety cues and appetite regulation
  • & if we’re honest, it can be really really fun.

Step 3 – Removing the ‘All or Nothing’ Mindset


I’m sure you’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t have to be profusely sweating to reap the many benefits of exercise. In fact, a study conducted in 2011 reported that short bursts of moderate intensity activity were significantly associated with improved cardiorespiratory fitness (McGuire et al. 2011).

So next time you’re thinking “I only have 20 minutes, there’s no point!”, think again – it all adds up!

Step 4 – Exercise with Others


Consider making exercise a part of your social life, instead of your weekly ‘coffee date’ with a friend why not grab a coffee and head off on a walk? Or, rope your girlfriends in on your Saturday morning yoga class and then grab some breaky after – it’s a win-win!

Equally, turn your kid’s weekend activities into fun family outings. Rock-climbing, swimming or trampolining – why should kids have all the fun?

Step 5 – Choose Activities you Enjoy


As the title of this post suggests, joyful movement is only going to be joyful if you’re actually doing things you enjoy! Don’t set a goal of running 5x per week if you absolutely detest running, chances are you won’t stick to it and you’ll be left feeling disheartened and disappointed.

Set some time aside to really think about things you enjoy doing; walking, cycling, playing tennis, yoga, palates – you name it.

Finally, don’t be afraid to try something new! Always wanted to play badminton? Join a local club, a great way of meeting like-minded people and adding variety to your routine.

“Exercise should be a celebration of what the body can do, rather than punishment for what you ate”.

Ross, R., and McGuire, A. (2011). Incidental Physical Activity Is Positively Associated with Cardiorespiratory Fitness. School of Kinesiology and Health Studies, CANADA.



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