happiness · health · play · youtube

Prancercising, Inspired by Play

Everyone’s been having fun learning about Prancercise, created by Joanna Rohrback. Sure it’s a little silly, but that’s sort of the point. Joanna even says that the workout is inspired by horses prancing, and should be motivated by fun:

Prancercise® is defined as: A springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation. It’s about Self-Expression. It’s about Non-violence. It’s about Conservation.

Exercise doesn’t need to be grueling and difficult, it can be fun. People stick with exercise programs longer if it’s fun, and exercise has been shown to be more effective when it’s fun.

So while blogs like the Huffington Post are poking fun at Prancercising, in a way it’s a great reminder to have fun with your exercise routine.

education · school · youtube

Why We Need Physical Education

 

Dr. Thom McKenzie explains why it’s so important for children to have quality Physical Education in school and how caring adults can support it. Designed especially for parents, teachers, school board members and administrators.

creativity · youtube

Superbowl ad actually encourages us to exercise (sorta)

Superbowl Sunday is almost upon us, and the Superbowl ads are already being released. Volkswagen has released an ad that features a dog getting in shape for his sport. While it’s obviously meant in jest, in some ways it’s great because it arguably sends the message that anyone can train for their personal goals, whether it’s chasing cars (and vaulting through trees), fitting through the doggie door, or whatever.
What are your goals? I’m participating in a 5k on Saturday, but what physical movement and enrichment do you hope to accomplish over the weekend?

behavior · creativity · health · youtube

30 minutes of play a day!

*edit*: NOW with working YouTube link. Thanks for NOT telling me, people, gosh! 😛

In case you’re still trying to come up with a new year’s resolution, or even if you think you’ve got your goals for 2012 all set, you might want to make room for one more.

Ryan Ford, the man behind the DemonDrills workouts on YouTube and owner of Apex Movement, a Parkour and Crossfit gym in Colorado, makes a very convincing argument for just how easy it is to incorporate 30 minutes of fun exercise, i.e. play, into your day:

You’d be amazed at how easy it is to add a little play into your day, and how quickly that play adds up. It also helps get the creative juices flowing and helps you see the world in new ways, so it’s also good brain exercise.

environment · health

Infographic: How Bikes Improve Everything!

Ok, maybe a bit of an overstatement, but I still like the infographic; sometimes it is easiest to explain really complicated, heavy issues using an image:

From Sustainable Business Oregon:

If the entire European Union boasted average cycling miles like Denmark’s the region’s emissions would drop by 25 percent. This according to the European Cycling Foundation.

But a cool infographic from a Northwest coalition of health care management advocates also points out the health benefits of bike commuting. For example: The average worker will lose 13 pounds in their first year of biking to work.

The group also posits that Portland’s investment in bike-commuting infrastructure will save the city millions in health care expenses.

Created by: Healthcare Management Degree

behavior · happiness · health · play

Growth of playful fitness for grown-ups

IMG_6278
Adults are starting to turn fitness back into play. Image via Wikipedia

I have noticed a growing trend in fitness. Rather than taking Spin classes or training to run marathons, or even heavy weight lifting, many adults are starting to pay to play. They are buying gym memberships or punch cards for classes that offer an hour of having fun! Many classes that incorporate dance, parkour, or toys like hula hoops or trampolines, are starting to become very popular all over the United States.

The majority of these classes are geared towards women. Jazzercise has had a resurgence in popularity the past couple of years, while new fitness classes like Zumba or HoopDance are starting to surface. There are also trampolining classes offered in some places. Below are descriptions of some of these classes for those of you like me who had no idea what these classes were exactly, (thanks to Vibe Dance Studio and Sky High Sport for descriptions):

Zumba: This Adult Fitness class features easy-to-follow routines of interval training sessions where fast and slow Latin rhythms and resistance training are combined to tone and sculpt your body while burning fat. Add some Latin flavor and international zest into the mix and you’ve got a Zumba class!

HoopDance: This fun, low impact Adult Fitness class will tone the entire body while using a hula hoop on and off the body. You will explore dancing while hooping and linking moves together to create a feeling a flow. This class will build coordination, body awareness, and is great for any fitness level. You laugh and smile while learning a new skill and burning calories.

AIRobics, or trampolining: AIRobics is low impact fat burning exercise that improves balance and coordination and it is fun and energizing! The workout consists of moves from many different workout activities, and it incorporates some moves that can only be done on a trampoline.

For men, there are also options:  rock climbing has been around in the U.S. since the mid to late 70s, and  gyms geared towards those athletes opened up soon after. More recently sports like Parkour or Freerunning are also being offered in gym or class settings. Interestingly, at least anecdotally it seems that women are more likely to try these “manly” sports in the safe confines of a gym and with a coach’s guidance.

Adult recreational sports are also gaining popularity, from rugby and soccer to even roller derby.

Why the sudden increase in playful classes and gym offerings?

I suspect it’s because we adults are super stressed out (according to the American Psychological Association, Three quarters of Americans experience physical and psychological symptoms related to stress in a given month) and don’t get enough time to play and relax, but know we need to workout and at least attempt to stay healthy. Rather than do the traditional workout activities like running or lifting weights, which some find relaxing while others just find it tedious or stressful or even painful, I think many adults figure if they’re going to devote what little time they have to working out, it might as well be FUN!

What are your thoughts, experiences, attitudes towards fitness? Have you discovered other fun sports teams or classes that people wouldn’t usually think of as fitness-focused?

behavior · brain · happiness · health · Me · mental health

June is “Me” month

Cardio Boxing Group Fitness Class
This month, kick your self-maintenance into high gear! Image via Wikipedia

Interested in joining me for a little “me” time? How about a whole month of it?

My mother and I have decided that for June, 2011, we are going to be totally self-centered. That’s right, we are going to focus entirely on ourselves; our health, our mental wellness, our physical fitness, taking time for ourselves, and figuring out what we want out of life. Neither one of us is very good at this kind of self-focused behavior, so it will be an interesting experiment to see if we can both pull it off.

So far I have done pretty good: I woke up early and did a productive, challenging workout, I have eaten quite healthy meals (oatmeal with raisins and a tuna salad, thank you very much!), did not spend an exhorbitant amount of time at work, tidied up some stuff online I’ve been meaning to do, finally asked my boss about a couple of nagging issues, and am planning to spend time doing fun stuff with my husband before going to bed at a reasonable hour. I actually started a day early yesterday and bought new clothes (some new, some new-to-me) that made me look and feel good, and had a decent dinner. Pretty good track record for only a day and a half.

I invite everyone to join me for “Me” month. If you can’t do a whole month, maybe choose a week. Or even one day a week. This isn’t about indulging in your every whim or being hedonistic or a narcissist. It’s about taking care of yourself for an extended period of time. Getting enough sleep. Eating healthy food, and not too much. Moving around, getting exercise. Figuring out who and what you want to spend more time on and DOING it!

We all have things we could be better at for self-maintenance, and often we take a lopsided approach. Some people focus entirely on what they put in their bodies, some only focus on how their body or mind performs, paying no attention to the other side. But we are all one big giant package of tissue and firing neurons, and all of it needs to be taken care of, not just the muscles OR the brain OR some other feature (your hair?).

Recently I asked what your deathbed regrets would be, so think of this as the next step: what can you do today to take better care of yourself, to make sure you don’t have those regrets, or at least delay that deathbed a bit more? I know some very healthy, well-rounded people, so I’m curious to see what they secretly think they need to work on.

Take some time to think about what your body and mind really need, unless you already know, and leave it in the comments below.

behavior · brain · happiness · health · Uncategorized

Note to self: the universe says go easier on yourself

After going, going, going, I need a break, and research agrees; from the New York Times’ Well Blog:

Do you treat yourself as well as you treat your friends and family?

That simple question is the basis for a burgeoning new area of psychological research called self-compassion — how kindly people view themselves. People who find it easy to be supportive and understanding to others, it turns out, often score surprisingly low on self-compassion tests, berating themselves for perceived failures like being overweight or not exercising.

The research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic. Preliminary data suggest that self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.

This idea does seem at odds with the advice dispensed by many doctors and self-help books, which suggest that willpower and self-discipline are the keys to better health…

More at NYT’s Well Blog.

Now I’m off to go breath, eat a banana, and get a good night’s sleep.

anthropology · behavior · community · disease · education · environment · health · mental health · Social

How the places we live could heal us | Grist

This is an interesting follow-up/add-on to the RadioLab “Cities” episode I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. The Healing Cities Working Group of planners and health professionals in Vancouver, BC is working to create healthy environments in urban areas, particularly focusing on food and food sources.

It’s possible to interest public officials in the health impact of the built environment because Canada has nationalized health care.

“When you have a public health care system like we have in Canada, we all collectively pay the end-of-pipe costs,” said Holland. “So anything we have in our society that makes us unhealthy, we end up paying for it.” Of course, that’s true in the United States as well, but there is much less transparency and awareness of those costs because of the way our system is set up.

In Canada, Holland hopes to be able to involve doctors and public health authorities in the fight against sprawl and for more walkable and transit-oriented neighborhoods. Among the Healing Cities Working Group’s many planned initiatives is a partnership with health officials to advocate for more health-enhancing infrastructure and development at the local level.

via How the places we live make us sick, and how they could heal us instead | Grist.

Other studies have found that greener neighborhoods also decrease stress and make people more likely to walk or bike places. Where you live, what have you found works best for you personally to motivate you to get you outside, moving, and buying less insta-food?

behavior · children · design · learning · play · Social · technology

Download an Exercise Apps for Healthy Kids

The winners are in, and now you can reap the benefits!

The Apps for Healthy Kids competition is a part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign to end childhood obesity within a generation. Apps for Healthy Kids challenges software developers, game designers, students, and other innovators to develop fun and engaging software tools and games that drive children, especially “tweens” (ages 9-12) – directly or through their parents – to eat better and be more physically active.

via Apps for Healthy Kids.