Tired of the treadmill? Get out and play instead

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Tired of the same old exercise routine? Get out and play instead, suggests a fitness expert who spoke at the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) Annual Health and Fitness Summit in Atlanta.

Play is “the perfect anecdote for when your exercise routine starts to feel like more of a chore than an activity of enjoyment,” health scientist from Bethesda, Maryland, and ACSM faculty member Dr. Carol E. Torgan noted in a statement from the meeting. It’s good for the body, mind and soul.

“Think about activities you loved to do as a child and incorporate those into your routine (and) include your family,” Torgan added in comments to Reuters Health.

To rediscover your inner child, visit a playground, toss a Frisbee, take a hike, go rock climbing, pick up a hoola hoop, or dance. An adult weighing 150 pounds can burn more than 300 calories an hour by dancing.

“If you spent your childhood outside exploring,” suggested Torgan, “head out the front door and try Geocaching” -- an outdoor treasure hunt game using GPS.

You don’t need to be young to reap the calorie-burning, mind-stimulating benefits of play. “The ‘power of play’ for adults,” Torgan said, “lies in simply focusing on the joy of moving, having a little fun with it, and not taking ourselves too seriously.”

“Whether it’s shooting hoops or even playing on a teeter-totter with a friend, these unstructured activities can create a sense of belonging and community,” Torgan said.

Another benefit of “play” exercise is that it “doesn’t require expensive equipment, a gym membership, or form-fitting Lycra - it’s free. You only need an open mind,” Torgan said.

“The key for most adults,” she added, “is simply to give themselves permission to play - even for 10-15 minutes. Unplug and dance. Life is too short to spend it checking your email.”