Why Should Exercise Be All Work And No Play?

By Cynthia Jones

Ah, the good old days.  When we look back at old photos, we tend to laugh at our old hairstyles or outfits and ask, “What were we thinking?”  While some trends tend to recirculate, I think I speak for most of us when I say we should stick with today’s athleisure over the leotards and matching tights from the 80s.   However, bringing back some old-school workout activities may be a great way to add some nostalgic cross-training into your physical activity.

Start out by streaming some throwback workout videos, like Jane Fonda’s step aerobics videos – those are as nostalgic as you can get! Aerobic exercise is great for overall heart health – so start stepping!

We can all use more play in our daily lives. Remember the feelings you had at school during recess when you would jump rope to rhymes during recess? Switching out with your friends turning the rope and jumping to determine how many doctors it would take after Cinderella kissed a snake. Jumping rope was one of my favorite childhood activities and I didn’t appreciate the cardiovascular benefits at the time. In addition to cardiovascular conditioning, jumping rope helps develop coordination, boosts cognitive function by learning new motor patterns, and promotes foot strength.

Have you ever experienced the joy of a pogo stick?  Jumping off the ground in a standing position with the aid of a spring? You might think it’s a little silly to bounce around on a stick, but once you hear the benefits you might want to give this a try. Maintaining your balance on the pogo stick exercises several major muscle groups. Your legs, back, glutes, abs, and obliques get an especially strong workout.  So, grab a pogo stick and get bouncing!  You’ll work toward building a strong body while having a little fun.

Another great exercise is jumping on the Trampoline. Yep, next time you see your neighbor’s children jumping on their trampoline, you may want to ask if you can take a turn.  Trampolines aren’t just for kids anymore. In addition to helping with coordination, almost any exercise you do on the trampoline works your quad muscles.  Jumping on the trampoline is an excellent cardio workout and is great for your core too.

Do you have some sidewalk chalk laying around? Hopscotch is a form of exercise that requires balance and coordination as you hop in and out of the squares. By moving large muscles, you are improving flexibility, too.

When is the last time you went to an indoor roller-skating rink? Yes, they still exist with their loud music and neon lights. Roller skating is well worth fitting into your workout if you need a boost of adrenaline and a change of scenery from the gym. Roller skating burns calories and builds lower body and core muscles. It’s also good for balance, heart health, and mental well-being.  Just don’t forget your helmet and knee pads!

There are so many other things that you may have done as a child that you can revisit as an adult to add some fun and play into your fitness routine.  Hula Hoop, tree climbing, and tag are just a few more things.  Games like red rover and dodgeball can also add a nostalgic element to your workouts.

Most people don’t realize how much fun it is to play kid’s games again. If your fitness routine is getting boring, what better way to make it more fun than by adding some play to your days? Hula hooping, tree climbing, and playing tag are just a few other examples of nostalgic play that can bring about fun and health benefits.  If you’re stuck in a workout rut and need some joy in your life, give some of these suggestions a try.  Have fun!

Cynthia Jones is a Wellness Strategy Manager, Mid-market Strategy Specialist, for Vitality Group. Over the past year, she became a grandmother to an Australian Shepherd named Walter who she has fallen head over heels in love with. Cynthia enjoys drawing and watercolors.  When the weather cooperates, you will find her gardening, bicycling, or at the dog park.

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