Hive Health Media

For Faster Results: Combine Fun, Fitness. Shake. Serve.

people having fun at the beachYou need to have more fun. Studies show that laughing and engaging in play activities does more than pass the time. Even the anticipation of laughter relieves stress, raises the level of endorphins (natural painkillers) in your brain, increases production of Human Growth Hormone and reduces Cortisol levels.

To give some perspective: Cortisol and stress are two of the culprits responsible for stubborn abdominal fat and insulin resistance, and HGH is a hormone that athletes like to supplement because it’s so effective for building muscle and healing injuries. If simple enjoyment can deliver these effects (stress relief, cortisol reduction, endorphin and HGH production), then why are so many people working out in a way that’s just no fun?

People go to the gym to get in shape, lose weight, gain muscle, improve athletic performance… for these people, the end result is the focus, and if they don’t reach that goal they’re likely to give up. What if your workout was to laugh, run around, throw stuff, and be a goof? What if going to the gym were the goal in and of itself, with aesthetic and athletic benefits being secondary? That would be pretty cool. But if you look inside the average gym, you’ll see a lot of people plodding away through the same routines, staring at the same TVs, completely disengaged from their own bodies. It’s an odd phenomenon in a facility that is ostensibly devoted to physical improvement.

Compare these two scenarios: Person A wakes up, brushes teeth, looks at to-do list, sees “go to gym” and immediately starts feeling… indifference. Or worse: dread. They drag on their workout clothes, slouch into the gym, do their 20 minutes of cardio while watching the latest Dog Whisperer, and then start working their way through the machines which isolate muscle groups, and finally to the showers, dress, and go to work.

Person B wakes up, brushes teeth, looks at to-do list, sees “train” and immediately starts thinking up physical challenges for the morning’s session. Workout clothes on, out the door for a run to a nearby park, then to climb a tree using both hands but only one foot, then to jump onto a boulder and down again, then to vault over a park bench, then repeat the whole process until bored, then jog home, shower, dress, and to work.

Person B might garner some odd looks at the park (or make some new friends), but it’s a safe bet they’re having more fun than Person A. Another safe bet is that Person B will see faster gains in fitness and body composition… but Person B might not care too much cause they’re so busy producing endorphins and HGH — er, I mean — having fun.

Liz is a partner and trainer at StrengthBox in Toronto. With a diverse background in dance, yoga, barbell work, and even trapeze, Liz brings a unique training perspective and a wicked sense of humour to her clients. As a new mom, Liz has first-hand experience with training while hoping to become pregnant, during pregnancy, and post-partum.

5 Comments

  1. Liz McGurrin

    December 7, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Excellent point, Laura. Here you go:

    The evolution and functions of laughter and humor: a synthetic approach.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16519138

    The dynamics of laughter.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1596112

    Humor theories and the physiological benefits of laughter.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19901609

  2. Teresa Kay

    December 6, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    So true. Works especially well with children. When the game is on the kids go hard…But ask them to do x.y.z and motivation drops.

  3. Dennis Blair Fort Collins Personal Training

    December 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    “Cortisol and stress are two of the culprits responsible for stubborn abdominal fat and insulin resistance, and HGH is a hormone that athletes like to supplement because it’s so effective for building muscle and healing injuries. If simple enjoyment can deliver these effects (stress relief, cortisol reduction, endorphin and HGH production), then why are so many people working out in a way that’s just no fun?”

    Exactly!

  4. Laura

    December 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Awesome post & I’d really like to share it around, but it starts with “Studies show that laughing and engaging in play activities does more than pass the time.” and then does not cite the studies. Do you have some links you can share in the comments section?

  5. [email protected] Workouts

    December 6, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Hi Liz, really awesome point of view. In fact, if you take it one step further and add a Person C who wakes up, brushes teeth and sees “soccer” or “ultimate frisbee” on their list, that is even more play like! I always suggest my fitness and weight loss clients try to incorporate some form of this type of “play” into their programs – for reasons you so brilliantly mention above.

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