On Playfulness

It’s day 18 of Blogvember. I’m following the prompts from Andrew Canion, which can be found here.

Life has a way of making you think you need to be serious as an adult. Certainly, there’s the usual responsibilities that come along with life, but it’s really occurred to me over the past year especially that there needs to be room for fun.

Health is a steadily marching priority, and I see plenty of people my age trying to “gamify” health. Close all the rings on your Apple Watch, hit those 10,000 steps on your Fitbit, etc. Of course, while there’s plenty to be said for accomplishing both, the ones who really want us to do that are the ones who have a vested interest in us tracking ourselves. Having used a Fitbit on and off for a few years, I’ve seen just how much sway those things can have on your life.

The fun I’ve (re)discovered lately is a more fundamental one: that of letting go of what I’m holding onto for a while and playing. This has been helped in large part by joining a Ninja-style obstacle gym earlier this year: in that time, I’ve reconnected with some of the things I loved the most in my childhood. Climbing around on bars, swings, and jumping on trampolines. I’ve also discovered new things to enjoy: swinging on moving objects, scaling walls or beams, climbing poles and leaping to mats down below.

Over the weekend, we were taking a walk in a neighborhood and my husband spotted a playground as well as some of those playground-adjacent exercise machines. I don’t much care for treadmills or elliptical machines, but I was happy to do some inverted rows on one of the bars, and then we climbed some cargo net and I did some dead hangs too.

It broke up the walk, and it made us both smile the moment we started romping around. In addition to the movement and the physiological benefits like increasing heart rate, exchanging oxygen, etc, it flushed our system with endorphins.

For me, fitness and health are best enjoyed not as some type of game with rules to follow and scores to reach, but as something playful that can encompass whatever I like at any given time. It feels like a win-win… I get to run around and play on a jungle gym with friends, and in the process I’ve found myself leaning out and getting stronger.

But the best part? It’s been great for my soul, giving my brain a break from the responsibility that weighs it down so much of the time. All because I’ve been re-learning how to play.