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How to have a positive relationship with exercise and your body

Annie Clarke, author of Mind Body Bowl shares how to improve your relationship with your body and exercise

by Psychologies

Having a positive relationship with our bodies doesn’t come easily to many of us. Every day we are bombarded with plans, programmes, diets and products that are marketed at helping us achieve a ‘healthier’, ‘happier’ self. As sad as it may be, with the sheer number of image-conscious messages we receive every day it’s hardly any wonder that exercise is increasingly becoming about the physical self, and levels of body image-related insecurities are rising so rapidly.

For so many men and women, when we talk about our bodies it comes from a negative head space, where we aren’t good enough for one reason or another. But what if we could shift our perspective towards our bodies? What if we could begin to appreciate that what’s far more important than our body shape is how we are feeling on the inside? After all, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that true health and well-being stems from a strong and confident mind. Whilst body image is a never-ending topic for discussion, what it really comes down to is the relationship that we have with ourselves.

It goes without saying that moving our bodies makes us feel good and has many health benefits, both long and short term. It’s important to remember that we’re all individuals and that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to exercise. Exercise should be an opportunity to be experimental and playful, finding something that suits us and our lifestyles, whether that be morning gym sessions, a favourite class with a friend after work, walking the dog, or an immersive yoga class.

However, what is most important is that whichever exercise we choose, we start to shift our mindset and approach so that it comes from a place of love and caring for our bodies. By doing this we can start to create a more holistic, positive relationship with ourselves - both physically and mentally. In turn, it will become more apparent that to be the most confident version of ourselves is no longer about the way we look, but the way in which we feel in our bodies.

Once we begin to see beyond aesthetics, we can appreciate exercise as a way of practicing self-love, using it as an opportunity to be mindful and playful. Of course we can use it as a tool to help us maintain our fitness, but more importantly we can use it to nurture a stronger and more confident version of ourselves from the inside out.

Annie Clarke is the author of Mind Body Bowl: Think, Move and Eat Your Way to a More Balanced Life (£11.72, Harper Collins).  

Photograph: iStock

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