Getting fit doesn’t always require a gym

Play should be so simple, right?  So why don’t we do more of it? Do grown-ups even know how anymore? It seems to me that play has become something kids do, mostly on electronic devices, and usually away from adult activities. I agree with the saying, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”  I, for one, refuse to grow old. Now who’s with me?

Here’s a fun fact: stress causes inflammation, which in turn causes illness. Playing decreases stress and therefore inflammation. Playing outside is the best of all because sunshine helps us synthesize vitamin D, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.  Boom.  Let’s go play outside!

Related: Cardio to Cocktails: the New Fitness Style

I can already hear the boring adult grumble: “I don’t have time for that.” Yeah, I know. Me neither. I have an idea: let’s take one day of the week that we would normally go to the gym and put our bodies through a rigorous beat-down, and instead actively rest while still burning fat and actually increasing our body’s ability to train due to lowered inflammation. Sound good?

But, you may ask, how do I play? I haven’t done that since…I don’t even remember! Well, grab your kids, dogs, roommate, significant other, or anyone in the general vicinity who won’t call the police, and do something fun. Don’t worry if you’re feeling stuck, though: I have some ideas for you:

Go swimming: If you live in Florida, you probably have access to a swimming pools, or one of our gorgeous beaches. Swimming is easy on the joints and playing around in the water is fun, relaxing, and burns tons of calories, all the while you’re taking in some good sunshine and soaking up that Vitamin D. Challenge someone to a race for a combination of sprint work and bragging rights. If you have a long day at a beach, try something new like paddle boarding or kayaking.

Play tag: Running around in the back yard, smacking people on the behind while yelling, “You’re it!” burns a ton of calories and releases all kinds of endorphins from the laughter. Kids love to have the adults in their lives fully engaged in play with them. Equally awesome: leap frog, jumping on the trampoline, hop scotch. Get out there and channel your inner nine-year-old.

Climb a tree: This is the best way to get your neighbors to think you’re insane and it’s functional exercise: win/win. Plus, once you’re at the top you can take some time to look around and meditate. Lord knows you can’t get to the top of a tree with your phone in hand! No, that’s not a challenge.

A pick-up game of b-ball: Grab your kids or a few close friends and head to the driveway! Basketball can burn 272 calories in 30 minutes for a 150 pound person. Who doesn’t have 30 minutes to show their kids who’s boss on the court?

Go for a bike ride: Breathe some fresh air, feel the sunshine, and take in the view with the breeze in your face: you won’t even realize that you’re actively working out. Take some time to show yourself or your family around a new area of town, a quiet park, or the beach.

Take the dog for a long walk: Instead of just walking out to the back yard and checking social media while Fido does his business, grab a leash and let him take you for a walk around the hood. Try to keep up!  Before you know it, you’ll have gotten in a 30-60 minute work out and have made your pup truly happy.

Have sex. Yes. Sex. Does this need explanation? Sex reduces stress, stretches you, burns calories, and makes you, um, smile.

Making dinner, in a rush and it’s too late to go outside? No problem. Turn up the radio. It’s impromptu dance party time. Dancing burns crazy calories all while releasing the day’s stress. As Taylor would say, “Shake It Off.”

There are so many ways playing can enhance your body, your family, and your life. Use your imagination, get creative, and get out there and play. It’s good for you!

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