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The Benefits of Joyful Play

boy-on-merry-go-roundToo often we think about exercise as a “work” out and some sort of punishment. (I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that piece of wedding cake.) When you were a kid, you likely got plenty of exercise by playing with your friends and exploring your environment (as long as you weren’t allowed to spend all your time in front of the TV or video games). Kids don’t naturally find exercise to be something to be dreaded. Remember the joy you felt spinning as fast as you could with your arms outstretched or grasping tightly to those of your friend? Do you remember the laughter when you tumbled into the grass feeling dizzy?

As a dance instructor, I know that even adults like to spin. It is one of the more difficult dance techniques to master, yet they want to learn. Repetitively I have seen intermediate follows walk off the dance floor after dancing with a more advanced lead glowing and excited to tell her friends how many times he made her spin.

Physical exertion releases endorphins that improve mood. Interacting with others in a fun way can build relationships. Take the lead from your kids or remember your own childhood and get out and play this summer. Challenge someone to a race, ride bikes, swim, hike, play ball, spin yourself silly… Recapture the joy of your childhood and connect with your children. It is quality time that is healthy for everyone and they will never forget.

June 6th, 2009