Are you someone who engages in recreational interests alone or with others? Perhaps you derive pleasure from a solitary activity, such as the card game, solitaire, or one of the numerous game apps that can be downloaded onto your mobile device. Perhaps you enjoy joining others to play fun board games. But have you ever considered asking loved ones to do productive yet easy, short physical or mental exercises as a collective pastime? According to the American Therapeutic Recreation Association, there is much to gain from incorporating people who are close to you in your health-promoting, recreational pursuits.
From asking various individuals about their recreational pursuits, most agreed that doing a health-promoting activity alone provides many benefits. After all, a solitary pursuit can provide an opportunity to concentrate on ourselves. It helps us, for instance, to be mindful of how we’re progressing in our effort to be more physically or mentally fit. It provides us, as well, with the opportunity of self-reflection and the often sought-after solitude of peace and quiet. And for many of us who are kept busy with family life, an involved work schedule, or both, alone-time is a rare and precious commodity.
Most also agreed that alone-time does not necessarily take priority over time spent doing something with others. There is indeed a benefit to engaging in a health-promoting activity with someone else. In fact, partnering up with others can make for a more fulfilling journey to establishing a routine that is health promoting for all involved. What appears to make this particularly enjoyable is doing it with someone close to us, such as people in our family (e.g., children, spouse, siblings) or in our circle of friends. Below are examples of some activities worth doing with others.
Play a Health-promoting Game
Yoga Pretzels (see the sidebar for health-promoting buys) is described as a family activity where you learn ways to use yoga to “stretch your way to a fun and healthy lifestyle.” It is a game that my wife introduced to my kids and they love it. Observing them doing this activity together when I arrived home from work one evening compelled me to jump in and join the yoga fun. I jokingly tell others that it’s like the game, Twister (remember when this was popular?), without becoming twisted with the participants.
It is indeed a game that can be just as fun to do with friends. A similar statement could be said for activities that are not necessarily games, per se, but are health-promoting, none-the-less, and can be done with family or friends. Activities can include those that are ordinarily done alone. Take the plank exercise I described in a previous posting.
Who Can Hold a Plank Longer?
I began doing the plank exercise during the mornings over a year ago. Of course, it meant that I needed to pace myself so that I can do this exercise and then attend to my two older boys to ensure they would be ready for school before heading to work. Of course, things have not always perfectly gone well for me when I try to keep my kids and myself on-task in the morning.
One morning, I unintentionally (as I always convince myself that it’s unintentional) slept 30 minutes longer and was hoping to squeeze the plank challenge into my routine before getting the kids up. My eldest son, age seven at the time, woke up early that morning and noticed that I was doing the exercise. He asked what I was doing and I explained it to him. His eyes lit up and he wanted to join in. My eyes lit up as well followed by a whisper of “Oh, no!”
For five seconds, I was hoping he would run off to brush his teeth so I could get this task out of the way. Luckily, I was quick to remember that he’s someone who has learned to like brief exercises because of the fact that his karate instructor uses brief exercises, including crunches, jumping jacks, and pushups, with him and the other students in his karate class. Because of its simplicity, it was an easy activity to do with my son.
Since that spring morning, any time I plan to do the plank exercise and either one of my two older boys or, both, are around, I ask them if they want to join me. More times than not, they do. And it has turned out to be a fun way to start off the morning with them. It also provides me with an opportunity to reinforce in them the importance of starting off the morning in a health-promoting way. I certainly have come to appreciate how much the plank exercise is better than seeing my sons start off the school mornings with watching cartoons 😉
Whatever the activity, remember to make it a routine that is convenient to all involved and to have fun. Also, remember this. If all involved come to know the activity as routine and fun, it will add another social dimension to your existing relationship with them. After all, doing an activity with others creates the opportunity to deepen social ties and create a shared interest that is meaningful to all 🙂
(This post originally was published in November 2017. It is the third publication to appear on Health-promoting Bandwagon in 2017 and the third of three pieces being republished in celebration of this blog’s one year anniversary. Some edits were made to this republished blog post.)
Photos via Google search.
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