Turn Exercise into Playtime for a Healthier You

There’s a secret elixir that can boost your sex life, imbue you with self-confidence and optimize your health. This wonderful natural ingredient: daily exercise. If you could bottle its benefits, the world would beat a path to your door.
Think about it, the remarkable effects of exercise are the results everybody wants. Additionally, I believe physical activity can escalate your chances of achieving financial success and spiritual attainment. The trick to getting on the right program is finding the exercise that fits your personality and needs.

Exercise Barriers

While the results of exercise sound pretty remarkable, your other daily commitments and responsibilities can keep you from ever getting started. And even after you begin, staying consistent presents its own set of challenges.

But what actually stands in the way of most people’s exercise programs is not a long workday, the hassles of child care, chores or bad weather. The real issue boils down to motivation or a lack of it. Your motivation for exercising parallels your feelings about the experience. Compare these feelings with your relationship to other activities. If you’re like most people, you make time for things that are immediately satisfying and indefinitely delay tasks that don’t seem to offer immediate gratification.

For instance, motivation is usually high for basic activities like daily showers, meals and keeping food in the house. We feel good when we are clean and well-fed. At the same time, we don’t hesitate to handle urgent matters such as answering the phone and replying to text messages. Plus, we do what we need to do to maintain our personal relationships. Pushing ourselves to do these things seems effortless.

However, the activities we see as chores, which can include exercise, are the things we put off for another day.
With this in mind, you can understand that the trick to engaging in exercise is to make it a positive and rewarding experience. You need to find a way to make exercise an activity that fills your mind and heart with happiness. That is the key. After you achieve that, you will need to exercise and feel deprived if you miss an exercise session.

Here’s a new paradigm for exercise: Get rid of the word exercise, with all of its negative connotations, and think of your physical activity as playtime.

Visualize The Good Times

A short visualization session can help you take an important step in this paradigm shift: Picture yourself as a small child, say, age 6 or 10 or 13. See that you are smiling… laughing… playing in a carefree manner with your best friends outdoors. Allow yourself to take a moment of reflection and visualize those favorite places where you used to play. It could be a field by your childhood home, the park down the street or your favorite back yard. Maybe you can remember a wonderful camping trip or going to the beach. Or you can visualize hiking up mountains, skiing or traipsing through snow.

In this process, you must embrace the memory of how it felt to be at play and not at work. Did you feel free, excited and passionate?  Do you remember your connection and appreciation for nature? The grass, the flowers, the trees, rocks… and maybe even the weather were all part of your sweet memories.

Now allow yourself to feel and see what that small child (you) felt and saw for just a few moments. Move your mental image away from watching yourself to actually being you. Relive the feelings of those moments.

Remember how you would stay out playing… even when it was getting dark outside?  Think about why you wanted to keep playing. It wasn’t because you were thinking how important it was to get exercise, or needed to lose weight, or wished to get in great physical shape. It was from a feeling of excitement at being with your best friends and doing care-free things. You were exercising, indeed, but with the mental and emotional passion of playtime!

Playtime creates a feeling of being creative, free and energized. So much so that when you used to play, ending playtime was the last thing on your mind. Dinner could wait because you were caught up in the passion of playtime.
Think about playtime some more and its advantages over the concept of an exercise session. Notice that when you are playing there are no worries. You don’t even feel pain when you encounter minor injuries. During playtime, your creative mind is fully engaged and whatever activity you are doing is the perfect thing at the time. Also, you run and move about but thoughts of fatigue and resting are forgotten. You feel the passion of competing and winning in your favorite sport. You are feeling the thrill of keeping the temple of your body in great physical shape. You are feeling the excitement of playtime activity!

Your challenge is to embrace these memories and feelings and from now on conceptualize your workouts and physical exercises as playtime activities. Plan now to free up a minimum of 30 minutes for playtime, three to four days each week. What kind of playing will you do? When will you do it? Who will you play with? Answer those questions and you are on your way to a lifetime of better health.

Making Life Changes

Making changes to your personal life, such as incorporating physical activity into your daily routine, is a big life change, but one that rewards you with better health. I know that every time we make a change that brings us closer to honoring our true wants and desires, we improve our immune systems, cardiovascular function and other parts of our physiological well-being.

For example, as I discussed last week, my own life became more satisfying after I had begun my career with True Health™ as a medical advisor and was happily writing the Easy Health Options health reports. I also had completed my 90 Days to True Health™ program and was using it with patients in my local area with great results. All seemed stable in my world again, but not for long. Another learning lesson was on its way!

This time it wasn’t specifically about my personal health or my personal finances. This time it was about my marriage. Discussions began and questions arose about whether my wife and I were still happy together. It turned out that we had drifted apart.
Beginning in medical school and then residency training, I had never really tuned into my most precious treasure… my wife!  We discovered the possible reasons for our emotional disconnection: We had been married very young (she was 18 and I was 22). That had prematurely cut short our dating experiences.
We had also not nurtured our relationship enough and had come to feel trapped and unhappy in that relationship. Certainly we both prayed for the feelings of attraction to come back but that was fruitless — we tried for nearly two years. At that point it was the children that held us together.

Finally we both chose to honor each other’s true desires of companionship and allowed the other to seek a new companion with different qualities. At the same time, we agreed to remain best friends and to be honest with our children and loved ones about our transition. So we spent a great deal of time together as a family through the time of our separation and finally recent divorce. Then we began dating again… and learning much, much more about our own selves through new relationships. Many people blamed us for giving up on our marriage. But we both knew that it was taking on a new adventure that we both desperately desired. Finally we had the courage to follow our hearts. And our hearts remained even more united in the process.

Michael Cutler, M.D.
Author, Easy Health Digest