The way we talk to ourselves about exercising — both out loud and in our heads — has a tangible effect on our behavior and whether or not we keep up our movement routines in the long run.
That’s why it’s so important to examine and reframe some of our unhelpful thoughts about working out. Reframing, a psychological intervention used to change negative thought patterns, is typically used in cognitive behavioral therapy — but researchers have found it has a powerful impact on our “biased thoughts” about movement, too, like assuming we are too busy, catastrophizing, or having an all-or-nothing mentality. Reframing our thoughts around exercise, the study shows, can reduce negative feelings, boost our intentions to get moving, and actually push us to be more active in our daily lives.
If you’re struggling to look at physical activity in a positive light, these simple reframes might help you put a new, more enthusiastic spin on it.
Replace “exercise” with “movement”
Is the term “exercise” keeping you from reaching your full potential? When you think of the word, perhaps you immediately associate it with an hour-long workout class or a five-mile run. When we gently shift to a movement mentality, it may become a bit easier to recognize that every bit counts. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking somewhere instead of driving, or simply getting up from your desk and taking a moment to stretch are all meaningful ways to move. And those short bursts of movement add up to something great — no lengthy sweat-sesh necessary.
Think of your workout routine as a “self-care routine”
Because that’s exactly what it is! Making time to move our bodies is one of the best ways we can show up for ourselves and prioritize our well-being. And considering the link between our mental health and physical health, when we take time to move, we’re also reaping the benefits for our minds. Shifting to a “self-care routine” will remind you of the benefits of movement and that by taking the time to get up and go, you’re putting yourself first.
Remember: You don’t have to — but you can
This simple word switch can make all the difference. Instead of waking up and thinking, “I have to go for that walk,” or, “I need to get my steps in today,” hone in on the opportunity of the moment. Phrases like, “I can go for a run today if I want to,” or “I have a body that can support me through this workout” will enable you to see the positive and remind you that you’re in control.