The Joy of Movement

Jan 11, 2022 | exercise

The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal, PhD is a short and easy read about all the reasons why our bodies and brains love exercise and movement. Kelly gives scientific evidence of how exercise helps us develop more happiness, hope, connection and courage in our lives.

Some of my favorite quotes and take-home lessons:


Anything that keeps you moving and increases your heart rate is enough to trigger nature’s reward for not giving up….You just have to do something that is moderately difficult for you and stick with it for at least 20 minutes. (page 18)


Do older people living at home need more connections? Kelly gives several statistics, and one of the more devastating ones is:….half the older adults in the UK say that television and pets are their only companions, and many leave the house less than once a week. Two hundred thousand older adults in England and Wales have not spoken with a friend or family member in more than a month. (page 31)

Weekly visits with exercise and conversation absolutely improve clients’ sense of connectedness and friendship!


Compared to their inactive peers, active older adults have reward systems that more closely resemble those of individuals who are decades younger. This may be one reason exercise is so strongly linked to happiness and a reduced risk of depression as we get older…The same mind-altering properties that make the “drug” of movement an addictive pleasure to some makes it powerful medicine for others. (page 54)

In humans, exercising three times a week for six weeks increases neural connections among areas of the brain that calm anxiety. (page 62)


Exercise builds our self-confidence which helps us face challenges in life. When we practice doing hard things, we can do more hard things.

The Joy of Movement is an inspiring read if you are looking for some reasons to start or maintain an exercise program. I’d be thrilled to talk with you more about establishing an exercise routine for you or your loved one – you can get in touch with me here.

In conclusion, Kelly says:

It’s not difficult to experience the psychological and social benefits of movement…There’s no training formula you have to follow. There is no one path or prescription except to follow your own joy…Move. Any kind, any amount, and any way that makes you happy. Move whatever parts of your body still move, with gratitude. (page 214)