Using Play to Rewire & Improve Your Brain

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Huberman Lab 58

Another week, and another fascinating Andrew Huberman podcast very close to my heart.

Since I began my journey back into fitness, exploring different exercise methods, one thing began to strike me. It was the importance of having fun. Enjoying exercise and not making it a burden. 

There are various ways to do this. One was to ensure I found times to exercise which did not put stress on other responsibilities so my mind could be free. Another was the discovery of the importance of playing like I used to as a child. Whether that be rolling around on a mat, kicking a football, swinging from bars, attempting handstands, or any other thing you used to do without thinking when you were a child.

Don’t get me wrong. I love resistance training. The nature of progressive overload to track your progress is a great motivator and ensures your interest in this form of exercise remains piqued. 

But somehow I felt there was something missing. A fun aspect. The carefree childlike behaviour of trying new things and not worrying about the outcome.

Then in 2019 I added “play time” to the end of my workouts. I literally even called them that. Other more professional trainers could call this functional training. But that somehow takes away the fun aspect of this form of exercise. So it was called play time then and always will be. Especially as I now have a world renowned scientist backing up my theory in this wonderful insight into human behaviour.

In this episode you will learn scientifically:

  • How play changes our feelings, thoughts and actions to rewire our brain to function better.
  • How playing as a child, or an adult, shapes your skill and social development. 
  • The neurobiology of playing and how it can broaden our future capabilities.
  • How you can use play as a means to enhance neuroplasticity and explore novel situations.
  • Recommendations of different types of play and how to use them for self improvement and growth.

My Recommendations

I would simply ask you to think about how you used to behave as a child. What did you enjoy doing naturally before adulthood took hold and you were forced to comply with cultural norms? 

For me it was cycling and football. I added gymnastic moves such as forward rolls, handstands and swinging from a bar because these are things which are easily added into a gym routine, as most gyms have a play area. From there you can relax and play around with movement. Don’t think too much about how things should be done. Just enjoy the freedom of playing freely like you did as a child with nobody judging you.

You might be amazed how much you enjoy this aspect of exercise which is very rarely spoken about. Knowing there is clear scientific evidence that it is extremely beneficial for your body, mind and soul will hopefully encourage you to explore play time further.

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