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What's the deal with...Playful Movement?

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

When you think of exercise, what comes to mind? Do you think of sweat, discomfort, and weight loss?

It is all too often I hear from friends and clients alike that exercise is something we have really come to dread. But life wasn’t always that way! It’s rare to hear a little kid say “I really hate running around this jungle gym!” As children we LOVE to move and run and play.

So when does it stop becoming fun?

What's the deal with playful movement?

Movement becomes really un-fun when the goal is no longer joy. When the goal is instead health or weight management or competition. Exercise CAN be enjoyable! Many of us, though, can relate to the struggle of getting started or finding a routine or workout that we want to keep going back to. That's where I suggest switching focus- look at movement in general as a concept instead of exercise.

"Okay, but what exactly do you mean by movement?"

When you think of the word movement, what do you think of? Picture moving water, fabric floating in the breeze, or a leaf waving on a tree. All of this movement is rhythmic. Its gentle. It is pleasant. Movement to observe is one of the most soothing activities. We watch people dance for entertainment; to relax we watch waves in the ocean. Movement inspires us to feel deeply and can be joyful, relaxing, sensual, or soothing.

“But Im tired/sad…”

As adults we grow to equate rest with leisure. Movement may feel like we are trading precious downtime- especially when we are low on energy or resources. Reintroducing movement into your life in a playful way will serve multiple purposes. More play will allow you to access more joy. Plain and simple, more play will just make us happier on the day-to-day. Play also has social benefits- it makes us more attractive to those around us by inspiring confidence. Also, joy is contagious and we can consciously work to bring more of that to the table in our relationships with simple steps. For those still negotiating with themselves for losing their rest time, keep this in mind: Playful, silly, fun movements can help exercise your body (in small, nonsweaty ways!) to actually help aid in better quality rest.

“So How??”

So how do you begin to get reacquainted with playful movement?

  1. Start with something fun and silly. Try a pair of fuzzy socks and a smooth (and safe!) surface. Slide back and forth a bit like you did when you were a kid! Hear a nice song come on the radio on the car? Sway to the rhythm of the music. Blow bubbles and then pop them in the air as they float. Kind of hard to imagine feeling worse after…

  2. Move in ways that ACTUALLY feel good. Roll your shoulders around- feel areas where you are tight or relaxed. Give yourself a big stretch when you first get out of bed- I mean big! Like the kind that if your dog did it you’d say “Wow! Biiiiig stretch!!” Allow yourself to feel what feeling good feels like.

  3. Embrace feeling silly. Dancing isn’t for everyone, but there is evidence that rhythmic movement, even rocking in a rocking chair or swaying, can soothe and relax us. It may feel silly or goofy, but that's ego and shame speaking. As kids we don’t shame ourselves for movement, we run and play and laugh. Whether you are looking to just play or to help heal your relationship with exercise, getting over feeling silly will only help continue to help motivate you on your way!

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