Somewhere along the way to becoming “grown-ups” we seem to have been taught that play is frivolous and meant for children. That it’s something you do on vacation, or while entertaining small children. This loss of play in our grown up lives is more costly than you may think.
“Too much sitting and other sedentary activities can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. One study showed that adults who watch more than 4 hours of television a day had a 46% increased risk of death from any cause and an 80% increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease.”-American Heart Association. Want to reduce your risk factors?
There is an entire multi-billion dollar industry based on trying to get you to shed the pounds and get healthy by buying their books, trying out the latest fad diet, newest exercise craze or expensive, “cutting edge” workout equipment. Truth is, that all sounds overwhelming and exhausting. We are already an over worked nation, so how about we get back to playing? Maybe getting healthy and staying healthy doesn’t have to be such serious business, maybe it can actually be fun!
Feelings of being tired, stressed and anxious are becoming far too common these days and the toll that these emotions take on your body is alarming. When the body feels stress and anxiety the brain releases a chemical called Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone and it is toxic. According to WebMD.com increased Cortisol levels have been linked to chronic anxiety and the increased presence of these stress hormones can have serious physical consequences including suppression of the immune system, digestive disorders, muscle tension, short-term memory loss and even premature coronary artery disease and heart attack.
Now is the time to change that! Take charge of your happiness and your health and let’s get outside, get happy and PLAY! Physical activity is proven to boost mental wellness. The American Heart Association reports that regular physical activity can relieve tension, anxiety, depression and anger. You may notice a "feel good sensation" immediately following your physical activity, and most people also note an improvement in their general well-being over time as physical activity becomes a part of their routine.
Now, just because something becomes part of your routine, does not mean that it has to feel routine. Gym's not for you? That’s okay, in fact, it’s good news. Gym memberships cost money while playing outside comes without a monthly price tag. And let’s be honest, gyms just aren’t fun. If it looks like work, then it will probably feel like work, right? So, let’s set ourselves up for success and get moving while having a good time.
One of the easiest ways to get fit is to find a friend that has similar goals as you and make them your “partner-n-play.” Ask yourselves what you enjoyed about being outside when you were a kid. Did you used to enjoy playing neighborhood street games? Then how about starting up a kickball league, or having a dodgeball tournament?
Do you have friends that you enjoy sitting with and sharing a cup of coffee or glass of wine? How about getting that coffee to go and taking a walk around the neighborhood while catching up? Or maybe you can power walk to the store together to pick up your favorite bottle of wine to share. Are you a member of a book club or bible study group? Try suggesting your group offer an optional peer led yoga class immediately following your weekly gatherings. Hiking clubs are another great and inexpensive way to get outside as a family or a group. Take advantage of your surroundings and engage your community to join you. By keeping your routine social, you keep it fun! Thirty minutes a day, 5 days a week is all it takes. Your heart, your head and your body will thank you.
Increased physical activity equals improved physical and mental wellness. It’s simple, it’s true…now let’s make it fun! We have countless outdoor activities here at ACE that are guaranteed to keep you smiling while challenging you at the same time. Check out our Adventure Series and join a trail race, or paintball tournament, or better yet, come paddle the New or Gauley River with us! Grab your partners-n-play and come get healthy with the play professionals in the New River Gorge.
If you are looking for more ideas and resources on how to get yourself and your family healthier and more physically fit, please check out Active Southern West Virginia: www.activeswv.org for organized community events and www.aceraft.com for all of your ACE Adventure Series information and rafting needs.
Author: Eileen Molly McKeown