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24 Ideas for Moving More and Trying New Things

Posted by Jessi Loerch at Apr 20, 2021 11:48 AM |

Nicole Tsong's new book, “24 Ways to Move More,” encourages readers to try something new. We talked with her about her new book as well as some of her tips on how to give your body the movement it craves.

Nicole Tsong spent 6 years of her life trying new ways to move her body. Week after week, she was a perpetual newbie as she wrote the Fit for Life column for the Seattle Times. She climbed trees, she took dance classes, she jumped on trampolines. And she learned that when she moves more and in more ways, she feels better.

Nicole has a new book, “24 Ways to Move More,” which takes what she’s learned and helps encourage her readers to try something new. We talked with her about her new book as well as some of her tips on how to give your body the movement it craves. 

24 Ways to Move More

The value in trying something new

Children try new things all the time, whether that’s movement or learning other new skills. As adults, however, we often don’t think of trying new things as one of our skill sets. Nicole says she sees that adults often stick with what they know, or are good at, but that can quickly leave them stuck in an unenjoyable exercise box that they don’t enjoy. 

“There’s a very limited way of thinking about exercise,” she said. “This thought that you have to exercise to lose weight and be skinny. But that’s not very motivating for me.”

Nicole says that, if you can break out of that way of thinking and try something different just for fun, you can find joy in moving for movement’s sake. You just need to begin by accepting that you won’t be good at something at first. But you don’t need to be good to have fun. And, the more you try new movements, the more your body will be able to handle even more new things. Nicole says that, especially given the pandemic of the last year, being willing to try new things is a valuable life skill. 

What to keep, what to let go

Nicole encourages folks to give new activities at least three or four tries. It can be hard, sometimes, to decide if you don’t like a new activity because it’s hard or simply because it’s not for you. After a few attempts at a new activity, your muscles will begin to remember the movement and it will become easier — and it may become more fun. That said, of course some activities just aren’t going to be for you. 

“If it’s not fun, don’t do it,” Nicole said. 

Advice for trying new activities during a pandemic

As the pandemic has required folks to avoid groups, many opportunities have gone online. That includes classes that can help folks learn new ways to move. Yoga, dance classes, tai chi, it can all be found online. And while some may miss the in-person contact, it also means that if you’re nervous about trying a new skill, you can do it in the comfort of your own home. Nicole also encourages activities like playing tennis, trying out simple body-weight movements or, of course, taking a hike. 

Nicole also says that she has heard from folks who have worked at home during the pandemic, that they’re missing their transit time, which was a chance to create a bit of mental space between work and home. She recommends taking time to move before and after work, which offers a chance to transition from home to work life. She also emphasizes that it doesn’t need to be much. Start small.

Nicole on trail.
Nicole (right) enjoying a classic PNW hike with a friend. Photo courtesy Nicole Tsong.

Tips for folks with limited mobility

If walking is accessible to you, Nicole suggests simply starting there. And remember, it doesn’t have to be much. Walk to the corner and back, or whatever distance feels accessible to you. She also suggests checking out options such a chair yoga, which can allow you to move your body in new ways, while still being gentle. 

Advice specifically for hikers 

“Hiking requires a lot of endurance,” Nicole said. “Anything that offers mobility and strength is good. That’s true of anyone, but especially of hikers. They tax their body a lot and could really use some stretching.”

She encourages trying exercises such as yoga that will encourage stretching and mobility. Strength exercises will also help build stability for trails, especially for those who are only getting out to hike occasionally. 

When you just don’t wanna 

If you’re just not finding the motivation to get moving, Nicole suggests taking a single step. Maybe that’s putting on your walking shoes. Or maybe you simply pull your yoga mat out of the closet. You don’t have to do the whole process, but making a start helps. 

“Don’t think about the whole process,” she said. “Just get yourself somewhere along that progression.”

Nicole on skis.
Nicole on a cross-country ski trip. Photo courtesy Nicole Tsong.

Before you get started

    • If you’re coping with an ongoing injury, see a professional, such as a doctor or physical therapist.
    • Remember that good nutrition and drinking enough water will help you feel your best. 
    • Be gentle with yourself and remember you won’t like or be good at everything.
    • If you’re following Nicole’s book, she’ll give you information on what you need for each new activity. 
    • If you’re starting a new activity on your own, begin with simple research to understand what equipment you may need to get started. While you’re at it, if you need or want instruction, find out where classes are offered (either online or in-person) and how much they’ll cost.
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of Washington Trails magazine. Support trails as a member WTA to get your one-year subscription to the magazine.