There is no doubt that life-altering events change our perspective and our sense of awareness that life is short.
It can take an unexpected medical diagnosis or the death of someone we love to shake us into realizing life doesn’t last.
Throw a pandemic into the mix, and life’s fun and enjoyment go out the window and our healthy habits too.
It’s hard to cultivate more play into your everyday life! Sometimes it’s tough to find the motivation but the bare minimum to survive.
An article in Harvard Health discussed that the worst habits for our brains and bodies include “too much sitting, lack of socializing, inadequate sleep, and chronic stress”*
There are so many things going on in life that it’s easy to lose our natural sense of play and enjoyment.
“A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency found the average American, for instance, spends 93 percent of their time indoors, 87 percent of their lives inside buildings, and another 6 percent in automobiles. All of which equates to half a day a week outside.”**
Did you know that regularly exercising doesn’t compensate for being sedentary for all the moments in between?
The good news is that our earth and its green spaces offer us a complete environment to improve our mental and physical well-being through play.
Often it’s not until we see a young child or even an animal in the act of fun and play do we realize that piece of us is missing.
As neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki says in her inspiring TED Talk, “The Brain-Changing Effects of Exercise,” play helps improve your mood and has transformative powers to “protect your brain from incurable diseases,” ***
How can you cultivate more play in your everyday life?
Take “Play” breaks.
As a health coach and play expert, clients are often happy to discover that the minimum amount of movement – 150 minutes/week**** or 20 minutes/day – doesn’t have to be done all at once.
You can break up your day by setting a timer on your phone or watch. Get up every hour, and move around for 10 minutes. Adding four or five play breaks a day equals 20 (or more) minutes!
Not sure where to start? Well, what did you enjoy doing as a kid?
Tap into your inner joy when you didn’t think about movement as exercise – you didn’t ride a bike or hula hoop as a kid because you wanted to elevate your heart rate – you did it because it was fun!
One of my clients loved to jump rope as a kid. She was so excited to learn that skipping was still available to her as an adult that she purchased an inexpensive jump rope and started skipping in-between zoom calls just for a few minutes at a time. By the end of the day, she felt great and wanted to do it again.
Or, the next time you are outside, why not find a rock to climb over or do some push-ups on a bench? Take a post-dinner walk. Heck, play hide-and-seek!
If you need more creative ideas, check out the list in my book “150 Ways to Move More” on pages 139-145.
Once you cultivate more play into your everyday life, you’ll find that play is like medicine for the whole body!
Let the world be your playground. Stop struggling to exercise, and start choosing to play!
P.S. Want to change your habits and have fun?
*Harvard Health Publishing
**The Globe & Mail
*** The Brain Changing Effects of Exercise
****Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans