By now, we are very aware that physical activity prevents chronic disease.
The COVID-19 crisis has thrust into the spotlight the need to address it.
It’s one thing to say “get into the habit of play” or “get more active;” it’s another to have people take action.
One problem is that not everyone lives in an environment that promotes being active.
“Up to five million premature deaths a year could be prevented if the global population was more active, but many people live in areas with little or no access to spaces where they can safely walk, run, cycle or engage in other physical activities.”*
But there is a solution.
My friend, mentor and expert Dr. Krista Scott Dixon (KSD) and I spoke specifically about this for my book.
KSD is a former university researcher and professor who escaped academia to pursue her passion for goofing around on the internet answering health and fitness questions. She runs the women’s weight training website stumptuous.com and is the author of several books, including Why Me Want Eat, a workbook for people struggling with food and eating issues. As the Director of Curriculum for Precision Nutrition, Krista currently creates coaching programs and learning materials for clients and coaches pursuing PN certifications. She also lectures and delivers training worldwide.
In our interview, we discussed how your environment could help or hinder your ability to move a little more.
Krista points out that “systemic structural and environmental factors” are the most significant reasons holding people back from the habit of play.
“These shape our experience and shape our desires, behaviours, and thoughts in ways that we aren’t aware of. A perfect example is the layout of a city. The healthiest cities are walkable, have bike paths and nature trails, have good weather and low pollution. It’s not that those cities have better people in them; it’s that they’re designed around playing.”
What if we don’t live in a city that encourages play?
“Maybe I cannot change my physical environment, but I should still think about and recognize how my environment affects things. Can I make my environment more conducive to play? How could I prioritize play in my environment? Are there possibilities open to me that I might not have recognized?
A friend of mine, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment, decided she was sitting on the couch and watching TV too much, so she got rid of her couch!”
So, what is standing in your way and making it too easy to do unwanted things?
As KSD says, “it’s about challenging people to come up with options.”
Here are a few play-based ideas that you can put in place today that can help:
- Implement moving around – standing desks are handy, but so is setting a timer to stand up throughout the day intentionally.
- Your local park bench can substitute for a gym bench to do functional exercises like squats, step-ups, push-ups, or planks!
- Walking meetings
- Put a yoga mat close to the TV, and every time a commercial comes on, or you have a break between Netflix shows, stretch!
- Calf raises when you brush your teeth.
- There’s a list of 150 more ways in my book😉
Understand that all movement matters and shape your environment to help you succeed when adding play breaks as part of your daily habits.
Living through a pandemic has thrust the importance of managing our physical and mental health in new ways to live longer and healthier lives.
Your friend and coach,
P.S. Are you ready to start playing again?