How Adults Can Cultivate More Play into Everyday Life
As Canada’s play expert, author, and Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Health Coach,
Janet Omstead is on a mission to reignite people’s passion for play to help fight
lifestyle-related diseases while improving their quality of life as they age.
With over 20 years of experience in the health and wellness industry, Janet’s strength
lies in working with change behaviour psychology, allowing individual and corporate
clients to make sustainable, actionable progress towards optimal health.
Most importantly, Janet guides people as they change their habits and have fun!
After recovering from a near-death experience in 1991, Janet promised she would
listen to her body and thoroughly embrace life. This positive mindset has seen Janet
through the ups and downs of raising kids, recovering from injuries and accidents,
being a primary caregiver and losing loved ones. It’s also enabled her to embrace some
unique opportunities such as interviewing world-class athletes during her years
covering the Olympics with CTV Sports, travelling the world, singing joyfully in a rock
choir, and, most of all, helping others live healthy vibrant lives.
Janet knows there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health. Through her personalized
“outside of the gym” play-based approach, Janet helps her clients look for the good,
find gratitude, and find joy.
Moving your body has so many benefits and the data is fundamental:
- Improves your mood
- Boosts your memory
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Staves off a host of preventable diseases (from heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancers and more)
There is no doubt that life-altering events change our perspective and our sense of awareness that life is short. It can take an unexpected medical diagnosis or the death of someone we love to shake us into realizing life doesn’t last. Throw a pandemic into the mix, and life’s fun and enjoyment go out the window and our healthy habits too.
It’s hard to cultivate more play into your everyday life! Sometimes it’s tough to find the motivation but the bare minimum to survive.
An article in Harvard Health discussed that the worst habits for our brains and bodies include “too much sitting, lack of socializing, inadequate sleep, and chronic stress.”
Did you know that regularly exercising doesn’t compensate for being sedentary for all the moments in between?
A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency found the average American, for instance, spends 93 percent of their time indoors, 87 percent of their lives inside buildings, and another 6 percent in automobiles. All of which equates to half a day a week outside.
There are so many things going on in life that it’s easy to lose our natural sense of play and enjoyment. The good news is that our earth and its green spaces offer us a complete environment to improve our mental and physical well-being through play.
Often, it’s not until we see a young child or even an animal in the act of fun and play do we realize that piece of us is missing.
As neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki says in her inspiring TED Talk, “The Brain-Changing Effects of Exercise,” play helps improve your mood and has transformative powers to “protect your brain from incurable diseases.”
How can you cultivate more play in your everyday life? Take “Play” breaks.
As a health coach and play expert, clients are often happy to discover that the minimum amount of movement – 150 minutes/week or 20 minutes/day – doesn’t have to be done all at once.
You can break up your day by setting a timer on your phone or watch. Get up every hour and move around for 10 minutes. Adding four or five play breaks a day equals 20 (or more) minutes! Planning for play breaks will inspire you to:
- Gain more energy, joy, and fun
- Improve your quality of life as you age
- Become more functional
- Take back control of your health
- Go from sedentary to superstar
- Eliminate excuses and put a system in place so you can live an active lifestyle
- Carve out time to play even when life gets in the way
Not sure where to start? Well, what did you enjoy doing as a kid?
Tap into your inner joy when you didn’t think about movement as exercise – you didn’t ride a bike or hula hoop as a kid because you wanted to elevate your heart rate – you did it because it was fun!
One of my clients loved to jump rope as a kid. She was so excited to learn that skipping was still available to her as an adult that she purchased an inexpensive jump rope and started skipping in-between zoom calls just for a few minutes at a time. By the end of the day, she felt great and wanted to do it again.
Or, the next time you are outside, why not find a rock to climb over or do some push-ups on a bench? Take a post-dinner walk. Heck, play hide-and-seek!
For more creative ideas how to add play into your life, check out “150 Ways to Move More”.
Once you cultivate more play into your everyday life, you’ll find that play is like medicine for the whole body!
Let the world be your playground. Stop struggling to exercise and start choosing to play!