Editor’s Note: This is an edited excerpt from “24 Ways to Move More: Monthly Inspiration for Health and Movement” by former Fit for Life writer Nicole Tsong ($21.95, Skipstone).

AFTER MY LAST Fit For Life column ran in Pacific NW magazine, I heard from people who’d tried new activities because they followed along as I took on so many myself. I also heard from people who said, “Nicole, I could never do all the things you do.”

The Backstory: On this personal journey of movement, all are encouraged to hop (or skip, or dance) on board.

Oh boy. That statement stirs up the teacher in me. If you want to see me motivated to get other people to move, start by telling me the things you don’t think you can do. Tell me the injuries that prevent you from doing an activity you love. Tell me all the ways your schedule and life are too overwhelming to work out.

Tell me, right now. And I’ll tell you — it’s time to get moving!

Becoming a mover requires you to learn to flex a new type of muscle — the one in your brain. Habits take time to build and discipline to keep in place. I’ve found the one surefire way to make movement part of your life is to do it consistently, which means you need a lot of reminders, plus choosing activities that you like. It seems so simple and obvious; it also could change your life.

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Inspired by what I learned writing the Fit for Life column and experiencing the life-changing benefits of moving the human body, I designed this book to reset your approach to movement. It will help you shift from thinking that moving your body is a hassle or a burden to seeing it as something that you love, that sparks excitement, that is part of the baseline of your day. Moving is no longer the exception.

If you already love to move, this book is your opportunity to expand your understanding of your own body and movement, and flex the learn-new-things muscle.

Tabata is a high-intensity interval-training form of exercise that builds strength, speed and power with short workouts. (Erika Schultz)
Tabata is a high-intensity interval-training form of exercise that builds strength, speed and power with short workouts. (Erika Schultz)

WHAT DOES IT take to become a mover? You get to choose. You can move in so many ways.

This book delves into 24 activities that are intended to show you many ways movement is possible, while helping you build the habit of movement into your everyday life. You can move on your own; you can move with friends; and you can experience the fun, joy and challenge of moving with a community. You can see how to add movement to days you don’t have time for a class. You decide.

I wrote this book because I don’t believe you are physically stuck where you are. I don’t believe your injuries are preventing you from moving (that’s what modifications are for). I don’t believe you will never get stronger. I don’t believe you are too busy to move.

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I know you can get stronger at any age. Why? I’ve seen it. I’ve met a 91-year-old who does aqua aerobics four times a week. I’ve met the coach for a 79-year-old who became a 12-time world champion power lifter — she started when she was 65 years old. My mother overcame lower back pain in her 70s and walks 10,000 steps a day.

You can get healthy and strong whatever your current physical state. Your body and mind are designed to get stronger and grow. Anyone can learn to try new things, no matter how hard it feels at the beginning.

Not only that, but moving is also the healthiest thing you can do for your brain as you age. In one study, researchers found that a single bout of exercise for participants ages 60 to 80 showed improved cognitive function and memory. Plus, your heart will thank you. A study in the Journal of the American Heart Association revealed that older people who spent less time sitting and more time moving had fewer markers of heart disease. Every 10 minutes spent moving was linked to improvements in heart health, whereas every 10 minutes spent sitting was tied to worse results.

Nicole Tsong, right, learns steps in a hip-hop dance class. (Erika Schultz)
Nicole Tsong, right, learns steps in a hip-hop dance class. (Erika Schultz)

Moving more is essential to living and aging well. Anybody can move more. It doesn’t matter where you live, how much you work, whether you can afford to join a gym or take a studio class, or how sedentary your life is right now.

WHAT DO YOU need to become a mover? Your body.

What do you need for this book to work for you? Your body.

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What do you need to do to get stronger? Move your body more, and in more ways.

Maybe you moved a lot as a kid and lost your way as an adult. Maybe you never moved much to begin with and are in a deep, committed relationship with your couch. Maybe you’ve never lifted weights or gone to a dance class. Maybe you have injuries.

You can modify anything. You can always get stronger. You can move more than you are moving right now. The only requirement is a shift in attitude that movement is possible, that you are not stuck where you are, no matter your age or the state of your health.

I wrote this book for you to prove yourself wrong. I will be here with you, every step of the way. This book is full of activities and ideas that range in cost and style of movement, with opportunities to journal and reflect on the shift you are experiencing from moving your body more frequently and in new ways. By journaling, you have the opportunity to see how you feel about your body and observe how it changes over time. This book is intended to inspire you to challenge yourself with new activities. There’s a reason walking is in the first chapter. Walking is the foundation, the cheapest movement (it’s free!) and one that is essential to elevating your health to the next level.

Thai boxing is a tough workout, even for the partner holding the mitts. (Erika Schultz)
Thai boxing is a tough workout, even for the partner holding the mitts. (Erika Schultz)

My goal is for you to try every movement at least twice before you move on. That might mean trying each just once a week for two weeks, or it might mean adding in a new activity more often than that. It’s up to you. After two weeks, switch it up to the second new activity. The key is to pace yourself so you can keep it up for the full year. Each chapter includes a journaling section with charts to help you track and rate your activities.

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The only person who can make the change — adding in new activities and pushing you out of what is comfortable — is you. You’re the one who has to leave the house, schedule the child care, find the studio. You’re the only one who can do it.

YOU MIGHT BE saying to yourself right now that this book is for people who have a lot of time on their hands. Or people who don’t have little kids. Or people who already have a good baseline of health or know how to cook and eat healthy meals.

Some free advice before you take up roller skating: Get help from someone who knows what she’s doing. (Erika Schultz)
Some free advice before you take up roller skating: Get help from someone who knows what she’s doing. (Erika Schultz)

Sure, you can say that. I also know everyone can find five minutes in the day to take a walk or get outside to breathe fresh air. I know everyone can put their phone down and look up at the sky. I know everyone can stretch on the floor while watching television or playing with their kids. If you need accountability, get a couple friends to get on this movement journey with you.

You might say you don’t care if you’re more active — you just want to lose weight. This book is not about weight loss. Back in the day, when I mistakenly thought weighing 130 pounds would make me happier, I might have said otherwise.

But my happiness has never come from hitting a weight goal. Sometimes, I’ve lost weight, but that happiness always proved to be fleeting. Over time, I’ve found that my happiness is rooted in moving my body and finding joy in how much it can do, no matter how I look or what I weigh. The activities in this book are about you putting you and your health first. This book is about setting excuses aside, challenging yourself, and then proving to yourself that you can get healthier and grow.

The world is better when you feel strong. The world is better when you can love and cherish your body. The world is better when you trust your body and ultimately trust yourself. Why? Because when all of those things happen, you are a better human, more balanced and grounded. And everyone around you benefits.

When I started to prioritize movement, my own life shifted. I am a better partner, a more loving sister, a happier daughter and a better friend when I move. I am smarter and savvier about my work. My relationships and work suffer if I don’t prioritize movement above everything else in my day. My mental health suffers. I get grumpy, and I stall out. And so, I move.

Are you ready to move with me?