By Kallen Anderson, Dietetic Intern, Gundersen Nutrition Therapy
Flash back to three years ago when I moved to La Crosse. I could instantly tell that La Crosse was an active town, especially with the bluffs and the river right here for outdoor activities. The first morning after my move, I set out for a nice run—which, for me, really means run for a little bit, walk for a little bit and repeat. I enjoy being active outdoors and going on a morning "run" has been part my routine for several years. As I started to pick up this activity in my new home of La Crosse, I realized that everyone else I saw running outside never walked. They never stopped. They just kept on moving like the Energizer Bunny—as if they never tired. This was when I realized I am not what people would call a runner.
"But exercise is so important!" I kept hearing it over and over. Yes, exercise is important. But exercise does not always mean running. I once heard exercise referred to as "joyful movement," and I think this is the perfect description of what exercise is meant to be. The more I realized I'm not a runner, the more I realized I love finding other ways of moving my body that brings me joy. Why do we feel so compelled to buy into the idea that exercise only means running a marathon or doing P-90X?
Exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle is important, and your body is made to move. Why not move your body in a way that feels good and is enjoyable for you? If you like to dance, dance! If you like to bike, bike! Explore the hiking trails in the bluffs, walk the dog, swim, throw a softball around with your kids, your friend, your neighbor. Join a volleyball league, try snowshoeing or kayaking for the first time or throw the Frisbee—whatever feels best to you.
You may not be a runner, but that doesn't mean you can't still stay active. Including exercise in your healthy lifestyle takes time and effort. It's OK to miss a day or two. Acknowledge the fact you haven't included much "joyful movement" lately and try to do better the next day. There is no sense in feeling ashamed because you don't enjoy the same activity that other people do. All you need to do is find what you do like and stick with it.
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