Stop Exercising — and Start Playing!

This post by April Jennings on how to have more fun with your workouts is a part of our fourth-annual Guest Bloggers’ Week. (Check out all of the inspiring, informative, entertaining and life-changing posts here!) It originally appeared on Guide to Whole Living, a site written by two youthful women who love life and everything that comes along with it. 


Here’s a question: At what age did we stop calling physical activity “play” and start calling it “exercise”?

Kids participate in physical activity for three main reasons:

  1. To socialize with their peers
  2. To build confidence and self-esteem
  3. To expend energy

Most adults dread traditional “exercise,” and it’s no wonder. The formal definition is: bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health. BORING. But have the reasons for physical activity really changed since we were children? Don’t we still need to socialize, build our confidence and expend energy?

Drastically improve your outlook and get your daily dose of physical activity by making one important and easy change: stop using the word “exercise” and start swapping it with “playing” instead!

3 Ways to Play

1. Participate in a sport you enjoyed as a child. I play on a co-ed adult soccer team called the Red Bulls. It’s comprised of adults of varying ages and skill level. I want to be completely honest; I’m not very good. And honestly, it’s totally okay. I get slightly better each week, have a blast, work up a serious sweat, and I have met some awesome people. It also doesn’t hurt that a lot of my teammates have small children that cheer us on, which make games that much more fun.

2. Buddy up. You’ve heard it a million times: get a workout partner. Heck, get three. I’ve gotten to know some of my closest friends while hanging out when we were working out. We run, walk and hike in the snow pulling babies on toboggans; we try Zumba, take couples yoga (we got an ab workout from laughing) and make up our own circuit-training course; we do lunges around the office at work, forge nature trails, snow shoe, the list could go on forever. In short, I have some of the best memories from “playing” with my friends. There’s no competition involved, and the words “working out” never come up.

3. Sign up for an athletic event. Color Run, Foam Fest, Turkey Trot — these races are all equally fun, non-traditional races that will challenge and inspire you. In almost every region of the country these wacky races are becoming a huge hit with novices and experienced racers. People of all skill levels participate. At almost every race, I’ve seen people walk, jog and full out book it. People wear crazy costumes, some bring their kids and everyone is there with the same goal in mind — to have fun and get active. Active.com is a great site that can give you a list of all the events in your area.

So, grab some friends and start playing! —April Jennings

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  1. It’s got to be fun to be enjoyable!

  2. Rose says:

    I love your thinking – call it play! In the summer there are so many ways to be active & do things to get your body moving outside. It’s a great time to decide to play more and get on the path to fitness.

  3. Hi April,
    “When the student is ready the teacher apears”, just yesterday I was talking to my buddy about the reasons why I stopped lifting weights. #1 reason it was just to boring. I decided to play soccer again and find a seccond activity to build some upper body muscles. Do you have an idea what I could do?

    Love Jerald