You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
In an effort to get healthier and lose 100 pounds I’ve been doing a lot of things differently. Along with eating Real Food, cutting out refined foods and a whole lot of grains, I’ve been “working out” more. This time around, though, I’m trying a different method of exercise. It’s pretty revolutionary – I’m playing around. Literally. If I don’t like an exercise, or I get tired of doing something, I just stop doing it and find something more enjoyable. If what I’m doing doesn’t feel like playing I’ll find something else that does.
What You Play Can Change Whenever You Feel Like It
For months I’ve been doing yoga, and before that water aerobics, but lately it hasn’t been fulfilling my need to play. Maybe because it happens in a dimly lit room, and after the winter my body is aching to be outside in the sun. Being stuck in a rut is poor play ethic.
Riding bikes and working in the garden are much more appealing to me right now. Pulling weeds and mixing soil are deposits in my play bank of exercise these days. Dancing ALWAYS feels like playing, so no matter what I make it a priority to attend my Tuesday night dance parties at the gym.
Here are some other reasons we should be playing more:
- People are more productive at work and get better sleep
- It can be done anywhere and has no limitations or structure, the sky’s the limit
- Playing develops stronger bonds with friends and creates community
- Reduces stress, which makes a healthier immune system
- Lowers blood pressure – more than regular exercise
- When you do something you truly enjoy, you’re more likely to do it again (sources 1,2)
What a boon to my own health journey the idea of playing has been!
All of a sudden, the time I spend in the garden, or sliding down the slide and subsequent climbing up the ladders (which I did at least 7 times today, without my son), hanging on the monkey bars, taking P on walks around the neighbor hood or to the playground – they all become health inducing. Simply by making an effort to play at the playground, which looks a lot like following my kid around with enthusiasm, I’m burning more calories and getting stronger.
Everyone Plays Differently
That’s the benefit of play, anything goes! If weight lifting and running marathons is what floats your boat than do those things. If you’d rather hike with your dog, work at a farm, regain the ability to go across monkey bars, build a table, run with a kite, or roll down grassy hills – DO THAT! You instinctively know what’s good for you, because it makes you feel good to do it.
Last night we went to watch my husands softball game at the park. It was intensely gratifying to watch an organized sport. I can’t stand baseball on TV, but in live and living color it becomes exciting and community building for those playing and those of us who cheered in the stands.
We got to play catch with my son, run around, and teach him about sportsmanship. Through the eyes of a 2 year old, hitting a ball with a bat and catching it with a glove made his dad, and all “the guys” into real life heros. The best way to have healthy kids is to set good examples, right? So why not show them that playing around is healthy and feels good to everyone.
Participating in team sports (in both children and adults) has proven to be:
- Good for mental health
- Learning to overcome loss and to be a good winner translates into improved personal relationships
- Promotes gratitude for others (teammates) which in turn strengthens bonds and gives you opportunity to practice positivity. Being positive always trumps being negative. The more you practice positivity the easier it gets to see the positive in everything.(source)
- You have the added benefit of running, jumping, swinging and moving your body
So there it is. Playing isn’t just for kids, but do they make great playmates. If you’re using your body, enjoying the activities you are able to do and being aware of how great they make you feel, then that’s all you need. It may seem unrealistic and strange, but I promise that when you get your mind wrapped around it, exercising can be playing and playing can be exercise. Now log off and go play.
This post featured on: Small Footprint Friday, Family Table Tuesday, Party Wave Wednesday, Sunday School, Fat Tuesday, Cultured Palate, Real Food Wednesdays, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Fight Back Friday