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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

THE FUN FACTOR

The sages say that life is a game, that our true nature is bliss (joy). And indeed play is part of our fundamental makeup. We all come into this world loving to have fun. In fact, children will amuse themselves whether they live in a suburb or a war zone. The urge is so strong that kids even made up games in concentration camps during the Holocaust.

Sadly, once a person achieves adulthood, the impulse to frolic and laugh has largely been conditioned out. In fact, researchers believe that diminishing classroom playtime could be responsible for the recent rise of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. And the recent surge in apps and video games to stimulate the brain - which are usually played while sitting or lying down - doesn't address the real issue: we are not meant to be so sedentary, and the best games should involve movement as well as intellectual engagement.

Indeed play stimulates the cerebellum, which is involved in balance and dexterity, and influences higher centers like the frontal lobe. But you can't rely on modern society to provide you with playtime. Gone are the days of grade school PE. Play is not included in the workday make-up. Exercising in novel ways brings a surge of euphoria-inducing chemicals not seen with more traditional workouts like the jog and push-up. Remember, burpees and breaststroke didn't exist from time immemorial. They were invented. And you can be the genius that creates a movement or exercise all your own. Start with your body, the best toy, and move in ways that feel good. With a little ingenuity and a sense of adventure - and down the road maybe a tractor tire, kettlebell, sandbag, muscle rope, medicine ball, jungle gym bars, water jug or utility bucket - you can bring the joy to your exercising life, and from there let it permeate the rest of your day. Now go play!

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