Fuel Yourself//

Small Mindset Shifts to Reframe How You Think About Exercise

Expert advice on how to remove the obstacles in your life and get moving.

Just Life / Shutterstock
Just Life / Shutterstock

If just the thought of setting foot on a treadmill or lifting a dumbbell makes you sweat, the biggest obstacle to your efforts to get moving may be how you’re thinking about the word.

“Part of the problem is the very word ‘exercise,’” Jim Owen, author of Just Move! A New Approach to Fitness After 50 and producer of the documentary The Art of Aging Well, tells Thrive. “It often makes people groan inwardly as they anticipate forcing themselves to do something grueling and unpleasant.” 

Owen shares how he came to reframe his preconceived notions about fitness. “My breakthrough came when I stopped thinking ‘exercise,’ and started thinking ‘movement.’ We need to remember that our bodies are made to move, and movement is fun! Just watch kids on a playground, or a group of seniors at a Zumba class.” 

And “exercise” isn’t the only word he suggests reframing to help reinforce a more positive frame of mind when it comes to working out. “Instead of thinking, ‘I have to go to the gym today,’ I tell myself, ‘I get to go the gym today.’ Change just one word, and you have a completely different mindset.”

For Kirschen Katz, a yoga instructor whose client roster includes Reese Witherspoon, Michelle Williams, and Laura Dern, some of her favorite reframing tools to keep her and her clients on track with their fitness goals are mantras. “I find mantras key to my approach to fitness, because it helps me hold myself accountable, boosts my feeling of self-worth and self-esteem, and is one of the things that will actually get me to the gym, or to the hiking trail, or on my yoga mat. Because we all know that showing up is the hardest part.” 

And once you do show up, take a moment to practice your Microstep — and thank yourself for getting there. 

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