31 March 2009

Tired of the gym? Get out and play

Tired of the same old exercise routine? Get out and play instead, suggests a fitness expert.


Tired of the same old exercise routine? Get out and play instead, suggests a fitness expert who spoke at the American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM) Annual Health and Fitness Summit.

Play is "the perfect anecdote for when your exercise routine starts to feel like more of a chore than an activity of enjoyment," health scientist from Bethesda, Maryland, and ACSM faculty member Dr Carol E Torgan noted in a statement from the meeting. It's good for the body, mind and soul.

"Think about activities you loved to do as a child and incorporate those into your routine (and) include your family," Torgan added.

Toss a Frisbee
To rediscover your inner child, visit a playground, toss a Frisbee, take a hike, go rock climbing, pick up a hoola hoop, or dance. An adult weighing around 70kg can burn more than 1 260 kJ an hour by dancing.

"If you spent your childhood outside exploring," suggested Torgan, "head out the front door and try Geocaching" - an outdoor treasure hunt game using GPS.

You don't need to be young to reap the kilojule-burning, mind-stimulating benefits of play. "The 'power of play' for adults," Torgan said, "lies in simply focusing on the joy of moving, having a little fun with it, and not taking ourselves too seriously."

"Whether it's shooting hoops or even playing on a teeter-totter with a friend, these unstructured activities can create a sense of belonging and community," Torgan said.

No expensive equipment
Another benefit of "play" exercise is that it "doesn't require expensive equipment, a gym membership, or form-fitting Lycra - it's free. You only need an open mind," Torgan said.

"The key for most adults," she added, "is simply to give themselves permission to play - even for 10 to 15 minutes. Unplug and dance. Life is too short to spend it checking your email." - (Reuters Health)

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