The Exercise of Gratitude – 3 Reasons Gratitude practice belongs with Physical Fitness
Why might it be important to cultivate gratitude into our physical exercise routines?
With Thanksgiving behind us, I heard something that felt all too true about mainstream American culture…that Thanksgiving has become the one day a year we have set aside to remind us to be grateful, when in reality, this day of giving thanks has started to become a day of getting more as the allure of Black Friday oozes into the day.
Well…there IS a lot of truth in that.
Even with one day to remind us to be grateful, it seems to be an uphill battle in consumerist American society where never being satisfied with what you have is promoted far more than being grateful.
There is also a lot of truth to that in the fitness and wellness industry.
Some might say that while the heart of the fitness-wellness business is to encourage health and motivate positive change, there also lies the darker side of the industry that promotes a sense of dissatisfaction with body image or level of health, marketing comparison and self-criticism based on idealized image of “fit”, “thin”, and “health” using negative thinking as a propeller to buy more…and in slips the constant dissatisfaction.
The “Black Friday” of the fitness-wellness business overshadows its intentions, as it does for Thanksgiving Day and its intended reminder to be grateful.
We know the power of gratitude and that being grateful (as a way of being and a practice) is optimal for health and wellness! At least that is what we have heard…
How do we know?
1- Well, we know personally how good it feels to give and receive gratitude, as well as to simply slip out of negative self-limiting thoughts into positive thinking, which fuels us forward towards our own health goals.
2- We know this professionally – if we dabble at all in any alternative or holistic health teachings or even health psychology – gratitude practices have the power to heal.
3- And…we are beginning to know this from hard science, as top research is now underway about the science of gratitude and its health implications. Initial findings report that those who actively practice gratitude have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, are more joyful, optimistic, and happy. (Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley)
And yet modern American culture reserves one day a year to be grateful.
Gratitude is like exercise, if you only do it once every blue moon, you will not reap its long term rewards and benefits.
Gratitude is truly only able to release its potent healing power if it is PRACTICED…REGULARLY…JUST LIKE exercise and physical activity.
We KNOW this.
Well then, how do we SHOW this???
As advocates and motivators of fitness, whom I like to refer to as the ‘new paradigm fitness gurus and conscious physical activity leaders’, might we be challenged or even called to consider ways in which physical exercise might be partnered with the exercise of gratitude?!
I mean seriously, let’s think REVOLUTIONARY here…
- group fitness classes that incorporate a sprinkle of gratitude practice,
- personal training sessions that culminate with the expression of several gratitudes, or
- wellness coaches giving homework that might include both daily physical practices and daily gratitude practices.
What might shift in both the health of our clients and our communities?
Just like regularly brushing of the teeth prevents cavities and gum disease, regular exercise of gratitude and body might prevent major health illnesses and curve this cultural disease of “getting and wanting more”.
Perhaps if the exercise of gratitude became infused into the fitness and wellness worlds, we might see instructors and coaches feeling and exemplifying this higher level of health and positive state of being, then rippling out into their clients!
Clients might even show up for classes and sessions more often! And they might even bring their previously afraid and uncomfortable friends who wouldn’t have dared to attend a group exercise class that only illuminated their dissatisfaction and negative self-image…but not anymore with gratitude as part of the exercise!
With the exercise of gratitude as PART of exercise itself, literally part of what is modeled and taught, might it completely shift the current fitness-wellness culture?!
Could the exercise of gratitude have the potential to increase participation in fitness classes and wellness services? Or even crazier, improve client retention?!
Considering what we know and are learning about the science of gratitude, it seems like cultivating gratitude practices into our exercise practices has the potential to unlock greater health and happiness, making Thanksgiving Day more than just one day a year and elevating a fitness class or coaching session to another level for both the instructor/trainer/coach as well as its clients, rippling out to create greater health and wellness in our communities and the world.
Does the concept of the Exercise of Gratitude resonate with you? I invite you to join the OLA Movement Tribe and get on the e-mail list as we are in the business of creating conscious fitness tribes and connecting wellness advocates while transforming health with an innovative, modern day movement revolution!
Be part of the wave, be in the know, and please share this article with a friend…!
My deepest gratitude.
ps – Want to give the exercise of gratitude a try? Here is a great online gratitude journal created as part of the science of gratitude research – it will remind you to say thanks every two days for three weeks.