Just MOVE – Movement Changes Your Brain – reclaiming the word “exercise”

“Exercise is the key not only to physical health but to peace of mind.” Nelson Mandela

In all of my years of studying neurology and searching for answers to the questions of my life’s journey, one thing took me years to understand. The power of words. All words have potential power. Power in words is their meaning and interpretation. The real key to this is understanding who you are talking to and being honest about your goal in the communication.

Are you trying to persuade them to your point of view? Do you need them to do something for you? Do you just want to make them wrong? Are you trying to have control over someone? Do you want them to feel loved and appreciated? Are you trying to save their life?

Often our goal in communicating with someone is unclear to our conscious mind and that causes us to miscommunicate and be misinterpreted by the other person we are talking to. 

Your choice of words matters in many ways.

Did you know that typically the number one person you have most of your conversations with, is yourself?

Are your words kind and loving that you use with yourself?

What are the words that you use most often?

Do you ever keep track of the words you use with yourself?

I have recently become aware of the fact that I have some broken and non-functioning conversations and actually self-destructive /harmful self-talk around “exercise”.

I would like to take back the word “Exercise.” I don’t know about most of you, but for me if someone says, “exercise” I tighten up a little and will do everything I can to not participate. For me I have connected the word “exercise” with losing weight and diets.  None of which has resulted in the long-term outcomes I was looking for. So, I don’t associate the word with success and happiness. I associate it with pain, suffering, waste of time, failure, and hard work that goes nowhere.

This is what I mean about the power of words. This word is not positive or negative. I have associated this word with it being negative. So, each time I hear this word I physically, mentally, and emotionally shift into a protective mode. My self-talk becomes a little self-destructive and layered with lots of “shoulds”. 

How productive do you think that is for me? It’s not!

Words can be hijacked by our mind. They can become associated with bad experiences or trauma. When that happens, we can give up the valuable part of the word. In my topic of exercise, these are the true meanings for the word.


  1. activity requiring physical effort, carried out to sustain or improve health and fitness.

                       “exercise improves your heart and lung power”

  1. a process or activity carried out for a specific purpose, especially one concerned with a specified area or skill.  

                      “an exercise in public relations”

3. the use or application of a faculty, right, or process.

“the free exercise of religion”


  1. use or apply (a faculty, right, or process).

                      “control is exercised by the Board”

     2. engage in physical activity to sustain or improve health and fitness; take exercise.

                     “she still exercised every day”

Definitions from Oxford Languages

The verb number two is a wonderful and important part of physical health, mental health, and happiness. And I have given that up because I placed a different meaning and value to the word from past experiences. That is what I mean by reclaiming the word, “exercise”.

These are the ways I help people reclaim the true value and meaning of a word:

  1. On a piece of paper write out all of the meanings and things you have associated with this word you have identified as being hijacked. Include rules you have created. I keep that paper around for a week or more and keep adding to it. It typically takes me seven to ten days to locate all of the lies and language I have made up or attached to this word.
  2. On a new piece of paper write out positive words associated with this hijacked word.  Words that make you think of strength, value, and clarity.
  3. Write out new sentences you will use to reclaim the value of that word in your life. Place up to three of these new sentences in a key place you will read each day at least once and read these sentences daily.
  4. Talk to as many people as you can about what you are doing. Don’t just post it on social media. I mean use your voice. When you talk about something out loud, your brain hears you and it stores that information in a new part of the brain. This helps to shift your neurology in the new direction. The more you talk about reclaiming this word and how important this new interpretation of the hijacked word is to you, the more your brain can build new neural pathways. This is amazing stuff. You are more powerful than you think when it comes to your healing.

When you do this, you will notice that you shift the power and meaning of this hijacked word and shift your thinking. That is creating new neural pathways. This is how you change your brain and change your life.

Let’s walk through this with me in real-time.

Exercise is so important for my brain; it is actually so important for everyone’s brains. It helps me release so much of the pent-up energy and emotions and frustration I have from day-to-day living. It makes it easier for me to laugh, share love and kindness with everyone I meet. It increases my creativity, improves my spelling, and helps me have more focus. It helps me to feel balanced, present, and engaged in my day.

Can you see how important this is to my well-being?

I can, and yet, I fight to make this happen most days, all because the word exercise means so many other things to me that are not positive.

  1. All the negative things and rules I have associated with the word EXERCISE
  • Hard work
  • Too much time, I rather do something else
  • A lot of effort
  • Being forced to do things I don’t want to do
  • Not being as good as other people
  •  Not being the size of other people
  • I don’t want to wear what others wear to the gym
  • I don’t want to be watched
  • I don’t want people to laugh at me
  • I don’t want to do things wrong
  • I hate doing this by myself
  • This is boring
  • It isn’t going to matter; the scale never goes down
  • You can’t make me, if I don’t want to
  • I can’t work out after I eat
  • I can’t work out before I eat
  • I will get sweaty and have to take a shower and I don’t have time

All of these things are just beliefs that I have, and I am living into these beliefs right now and it is not working for me.

2. Positive new words associated with exercise

  • Freedom
  • Peace of mind
  • Brain health
  • New neural pathways
  • Relaxation
  • Laughter
  • Movement
  • Less stress
  • Getting sweaty
  • Nature
  • Outdoors
  • Dance
  • Flow
  • Healing
  • Clarity
  • Vitamin D
  • New ideas and creativity rebirth
  • Balance
  • Physical appreciation for what I have
  • Gratitude
  • Cleansing

3. New sentences I can use to reclaim the word “exercise”

  • I love to move my body
  • Dancing and singing are so much fun, why would I not want to do that today?
  • Isn’t it incredible all the things my body is able to do, I celebrate by using it.
  • What is more important than destressing?
  • Free your mind and the rest will follow
  • What if my next great idea is stuck behind all of this stress and anxiety?
  • Exercise frees my mind
  • When I exercise, I am really just dancing
  • Movement is exercise and I love to move
  • I want to be able to enjoy my motorcycle for years, right?

4. Talk and tell as many people as possible about your new sentences.

  • When I exercise, I am really just dancing
  • What if my next great idea is stuck behind all of this stress and anxiety?
  • Isn’t it incredible all the things my body is able to do, I celebrate by using it? 

I can tell you that since I started writing this two weeks ago, I have been enjoying exercising more often and for all of the reasons I stated. I am reclaiming the word and learning how movement is part of my life, because I want it to be, not because someone told me I should or because I must. I chose it.

I have a couple of little post-it notes around my house in places that encourage me to think about what I really need at the moment. Just moving and being in movement might be the answer.

You can reclaim a word and your relationship with that it’s meaning. Your brain is a very powerful tool.  Don’t ever give away that power easily or without a fight.

What word do you need to reclaim in your life?


JoyGenea Schumer
Business Owner, International Neurodiversity Coach and Speaker

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