As kids we grow up playing fun games challenging our balance, strength and coordination by running, skipping, hopping, climbing, throwing/catching a ball and building huts. These activities increase our confidence and help our mind and body thrive. However, as we age we begin comparing ourselves to others and this once child-like self-assurance fuels the developing ego as we constantly strive to become fitter, stronger, skinnier, healthier and more athletic. Continually thinking about (and analyzing) your health and fitness goals can turn your physical/athletic endeavors into more of a mental discipline than anything else as you constantly “plan” for improvement. This perpetual drive to reach the next goal can sometimes take the joy out of fitness.
Movement should be joyful, physical and create an emotional, not mental (i.e., “thinking”) response. If you feel like your health and fitness endeavors have become disciplined achievements, rather than happy and fun filled events, try to incorporate at least one “play” action into your weekly program. Playing games like throwing a Frisbee, shooting some basketball hoops, playing in the waves at the beach, throwing a ball for your dog, etc. are all fun activities that don’t require you to think, but rather fully engage emotionally in the activity. There are no heart rate goals, repetition maximums or sets you must accomplish and you can simply let go and enjoy the pleasure of being in the moment. The added bonus of incorporating these types of play activities into your day/week on a regular basis is that you will feel mentally rejuvenated and more motivated when you return to your structured routine.