By sprinkling exercise into daily life
Good morning from New England. This is Intuitive Fitness, a newsletter exploring how to make exercise more enjoyable by embracing it from within.
The land around our house is bursting with life and it’s been fun to integrate exercise into the spring activities around the garden.
Last week, I mowed the grass for the first time and experienced how hilly our land truly is. As I pushed the lawn mower up the slope, I felt my heart rate and breathing quicken.
Instead of a chore to rush through or outsource, I savored it as an opportunity for mindful movement. I felt the ground beneath each step and listened to the birds chirping over the humming of the mower. As the aroma of fresh-cut grass grew stronger, I settled into a smooth flow. My pace varied with the grade and my path emerged naturally. The time flew by and I basked in the satisfaction of the light exertion and beauty of the landscape.
If we were to categorize this activity in fancy fitness terms, it would be an easy zone 2 workout. My heart rate was about 65% of my max. The effort felt like a light jog or bike ride. Yet at no point did it feel like a “workout".
Celebrating What We’re Already Doing
This is the beauty of integrating exercise into our daily life. The movement fits in so effortlessly that many people don’t even realize it’s happening. They often don’t give themselves credit for what they’re already doing.
A highlight of running a live course on Intuitive Fitness has been watching people discover ways they’re already exercising. By better understanding different forms of exercise, you begin to see all the moments they exist in your life:
In the morning play session with your kid as you deftly move around the floor. In the stressful work call that you pace around your office or blow off steam walking outside. In carrying groceries through the city and up a few flights of stairs. In the club you rhythmically bop around with your friends.
Look at a typical week through this lens and I bet you’ll be surprised at what you see.
Identifying Opportunities for Integration
Awareness of this type of integration also enables us to also spot moments we can sprinkle in more exercise.
I can throw on my ruck (a weighted backpack) before taking my dog for a walk. I can mix in a stretch while playing with my kid. I can organize pickleball, rock-climbing, or dance to catch up with friends.
The simplest way I've found to do this is through Implementation Intentions. These are simple If, Then plans:
This creates a cue of an opportunity to integrate exercise into our day. A student came up with a great example during the course: “if I go to check Twitter, then I’ll do a movement first”. One I’ve created is: “if I write about doing push-ups, then I will immediately do a set (e.g. right now!).
If these intentions feel too rigid, just view the process as planting invitations for different forms of movement. Rather than rules we have to follow, they are a collection of possibilities within our day that we get to choose from.
This type of exercise may seem small but it has significant benefits. During his guest session,, shared research on the health benefits of these type of "exercise snacks:"
Connecting the value of fitness to daily life
Noticing the way exercise integrates into these activities provides a powerful picture of how essential it is to daily life.
So often we think of our fitness as what we do in the gym or on the track. In reality, fitness is not just about how much you can lift or run, it's about how well you can live the life you want to live.
It is about having the strength, stamina, and mobility to embrace the activities that emerge in your day. It’s nurturing these capacities so you can continue to do the things that bring joy and meaning to your life.
Playing with these ways of integrating exercise throughout our day helps us deepen our appreciation of movement and our intuitive approach to fitness.
Thank you for reading. Please consider sharing this with a friend if you think they will be interested in Intuitive Fitness. I’d love to hear any reflections, ideas, or questions you have about integrating exercise into daily life in the comments or by replying directly to this email.