Why adults should embrace their inner child and be more playfully when exercising

Personal trainer Oona Tolppanen on why we should approach exercising playfully.

Laughter is the best medicine. So it is said whenever someone cannot stop roaring with laughter.

Laughter decreases stress hormones very effectively and lets your mind wonder, so it has a truly marvellous relaxing effect. Laughing does not only make you personally feel better, but it also improves social cohesion and helps people relate to each other.

Children tend to laugh about everything and their playfulness is completely spontaneous. Most adults are not as playful, while some may even be unable to experience it altogether. Nevertheless, when a large group of adults is introduced to playsets, playgrounds or a trampoline park, the uninhibited laughter of a small child can be heard once again.
Some adults may feel nervous about being exposed to childish settings. They might feel ashamed of playing and letting themselves go, although we all benefit from it.

Children do not stop to wonder what others might think about them, and they are able to physically throw themselves into any kind of play activity. Adults want to hold on to their adulthood by force and they need to overcome their initial emotions in order to relax and let themselves go more easily. Some may be able to do this very easily if their job or family life includes such situations, but others can feel very uncomfortable if they are suddenly expected to do something that they haven’t done in a long while, such as play publicly in front of others.

Unconsciously exercising

The most important effect of exercising is improving and promoting health, but the objective of all exercise activities should be to enjoy what you are doing in order to maintain the habit and make you addicted to the feelings exercising evokes in you.

If all these elements are present, exercising can become a natural and integral part of your daily life. If you take a playful approach to exercising, it can become something you do not even consider to be a form of exercising. By doing so, you will be able to abandon the performance-oriented philosophy that surrounds us in everyday life and start enjoying what you are doing simply for the reason that it is fun.

Exercising shouldn’t just be about burning calories

Taking a playful approach to exercising may have a remarkably positive effect so that we do not exercise only to complete our routine and to tone our bodies, but also to relax through playful activities, laughter and joy while engaging in challenging physical activities. There is an important message to all who exercise to look after their health: the purpose of exercising is not to make you feel worse or tired, but exactly the opposite. Engaging in physical activities with an overly serious attitude might be exactly the thing that exposes you to stress instead of relieving it. Take a playful approach to exercising and physical activities and you may experience quite different results.

In some cases, choosing a form of exercise that is the most suitable for you might make exercising more playful. Some may enjoy team sports, where laughter is typically common and the community’s positive energy makes everything less serious. Others may feel that enjoying good music in a dance class allows them to let themselves go and be exposed. There are a lot of ways to end up with the same conclusion that a playful approach can only boost our exercising and it may yield better results than any other approach.

Sometimes, it is worthwhile to assess your own activities by comparing spending time at a playground with children and exercising for an hour at the gym. Which activity makes your heart beat faster, stimulates your body more comprehensively and makes you laugh more? The answer to this question may be surprisingly positive in terms of promoting health. If you still think that you don’t have the time to exercise because you have kids, you already know what to do: take the kids with you, play and complete your “training” with them.

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