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As women, we’ve become experts in caring for the people in our lives. But keeping our bodies strong and healthy isn’t always our first priority.

Practicing self-care can make the difference between getting through life and embracing it with joy, says June Tait, PT, owner of Scarborough Physical Therapy Associates.

“My philosophy—personally and professionally—is to find what you love and make that your exercise,” she says. “If you like being in the woods, find some local trails to walk or bike on. If you’re an ocean lover, commit to a long walk on the beach a couple times a week. Change the paradigm so that movement is enjoyable.”

Everyone is busy, so Tait suggests combining physical movement with social connections. Instead of taking a walk or hitting the gym alone, make a date with a friend and catch up. An additional plus: it’s motivating to have someone expect you to show up. For those who prefer to exercise at home, Tait points to the abundance of free online videos for every fitness level—from yoga to Pilates to Zumba.

If you’re a parent, take the kids outside and kick a soccer ball or fly a kite. Besides getting everyone out and moving, “you’re role modeling for your kids different ways of making physical activity fun,” she says.

For those daunted by an hour of cardio, Tait asks her clients to break down exercise into manageable chunks. “Life’s routine moments are little opportunities to incorporate mindful movement,” she says. “Use a fitness ball as your desk chair, do leg raises while doing dishes or take five deep breaths to center yourself at a red light.”   

If a minor injury or pulled muscle crops up, Tait recommends ice for the first few days. For aches and pains that hang around, heat is her go-to. “Microwaveable packs put the warmth right where it’s needed,” she says. “Heat is soothing and increases blood flow.”

Tait’s prescription for staying active always includes a healthy dose of fun. “To me, it’s all about making the world your fitness center. Get outside and let nature feed your spirit.”

Lori Douglas Clark is a journalist, poet and community volunteer who lives with her family in Readfield.

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