It seems that all too often, our workout can begin to feel more like an obligation than an enjoyable activity. Why have we suddenly lost the fun that comes from physical activity and a healthy lifestyle? Is it possible that working out and training for performance are actually serving as unhealthy activities for our bodies—is the thing that’s supposed to improve our health actually hindering it? If we are so focused on the endgame of the workout and the process it takes to get there, we lose one of the most important aspects of exercise: the experience.
The ability to succeed at any elite level has dramatically increased as the years have progressed. The pressures to look a certain way and perform at a certain level have overtaken the minds of our society as a whole. According to coach Andrew Read, “one of the best ways we’ve found to fix this in our training is to incorporate playful periods into our training.” Any type of natural movement along with playful games and activities are essential and key factors in ensuring we do not get caught up in the wrong aspects of fitness and forget about all of the positive benefits that come with a healthy lifestyle.
What we may not realize is that “our bodies and minds are hungry for play. And when it comes to movement, the conventional mindset in response to this need — thinking we need to grind away on machines that typically lend themselves to repetitive motions — is incomplete and imbalanced,” (Heffernan). By incorporating playful activities into fitness routines utilizes all of your senses. While you receive the physical benefit of running around or playing a game outside, you also receive the additional incorporation of your sensory systems that work to connect you to the world and environment around you. Incorporating play into our workout routines allows us to feel young again while making our exercise fun and efficient.
By definition, exercise is “activity requiring physical effort, carried out especially to sustain or improve health and fitness.” Some examples of exercising that go beyond your basic treadmill and elliptical workouts include:
- Going on a hike
- Rock Climbing
- Interactive Video Games such as Wii
- Play a childhood game
No matter what your workout of choice may be, make it fun! Get a group together and turn a physical activity into a social one. Be active, be healthy, and, most importantly, be happy.