A common belief around exercise that keeps many people from participating is that it should hurt or be uncomfortable.There are advertisements everywhere online and beyond of advanced levels of exercise that can make us feel like we’re not doing enough or well enough that make many of us throw our hands in the air and say, “well, that’s not me,” or, “I can’t do that.”

That’s a tough pill to swallow if you’re already not feeling great.

Sure, muscle soreness usually comes after challenging the body farther than it’s used to being challenged. Depending on the level of intensity increase, this can actually be a pleasureful experience, because we know we’ve worked our body and muscles. But – movement in and of itself should not be a highly uncomfortable or painful thing.

Many times, the belief that high intensity exercise is the only way to get results stems from the fitness culture that flaunts intense workouts with fast movements, heavy weights, and lots of sweat and heavy breathing.

And while many enjoy the exhaustion that comes from such a workout, the less intense exercise is “not sexy.” It’s not “cool.” Right?

Or wrong? Who’s making the rules here?

What’s actually sexy is what’s smart and healthy. What’s actually cool is what’s smart and healthy. What’s actually sexy and cool is doing what’s best for you and your body. If you are in a place in your fitness journey where a higher intensity of exercise is safe and (relatively) comfortable or a good progression for you, then great! But if it’s not, then you shouldn’t feel any less sexy or cool by doing whatever you can and whatever movement feels good precisely where you are at.

Self-worth shouldn’t hinge on whether we can do the coolest looking new fad exercises out right now. Rather, being smart and taking good care of our selves and our bodies should fuel our sense of self. It’s for us. Why should we give weight to what we look like to everyone else while we’re doing it, or even any other time?

It all starts within you, not outside of you. The interior you, not the exterior appearance of you.

You don’t have to be a certain type of person or exercise only a certain type of way in order to be healthy, fit, and well.

Let’s take fitness out of the sexy or cool realm and put it back where it belongs – in the healthy, intelligent, functional, self-care category. Let’s take the pressure to perform out of the realm of health and fitness.

Exercise should bring you joy, releasing endorphins and reducing stress within your body. The many benefits of exercise, including reduced stress, warding off anxiety and/or depression, boosted self-esteem, improved sleep, increased energy and ease of movement, reduced risk of chronic disease, and more, should not be at the mercy of feeling like exercise has to be anything other than moving your body in a way that brings pleasure to you and takes you towards the results you personally want to manifest. Sustainably. For the long haul of life.

So, what would life be like if it did feel good to exercise? What if exercise actually decreased your body’s discomfort or pain instead of increased it? What would life be like if you had the energy and mobility that you would really like to have?

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