The City is Your Playground!

There is so much to do during any season in New York City, if we allow ourselves to go outside and PLAY!

Fall is rapidly creeping up on us but that doesn't mean it's time to sit inside. Being physically active and remaining strong and flexible throughout our lives is a valuable form of preventative medicine! Getting the extra oxygen that playing provides, along with the valuable boost to your serotonin levels (the happy hormone), are just two of the perks. When it comes to seeing that your entire city is your playground, there is also the very notion that you are at home, young at heart, and safe to go outside!

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If you’ve ever been depressed or anxious (who hasn’t in this wild day and age?) it may seem like lying down and flipping through Insta is instinctual, and a comfortable protective mechanism. Certainly, being cozy with a computer, smart phone, or even a mystery novel, will always remain an option! Yet, challenging ourselves to get outside and play, isn’t as easy as it was when we were kids. Or, maybe you didn’t consider yourself ‘athletic’ as a kid, and seeing the others run, jump, and scurry around was intimidating?

Whatever the reason that you have for remaining indoors, the best and easiest way to get up and get moving is to put a date on the calendar with yourself, and remember that the moments to feel the breeze in the air and to gaze up at the clouds are a special treat! In fact, I’m going to go outside and play with my dog… right now!

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And…. I’m back! So, what if you don’t have a dog? How do you rekindle the feeling of play-time and the desire to get outside to get some movement, fresh air, and exercise?

Meditate on it...

  1. Stop what you’re doing. Take a deep breath in, hold your breath for a moment, and now exhale. Do it twice more for a total of 3 deep, important breaths. You can go slow.
  2. As you breathe, and connect with your body, remember a time that you enjoyed the city. Was it the city lights? Was it a neighborhood cat that you saw on the corner, when you were walking home the other day? What is it that creates the release of stress for you, and the desire for adventure? Now stand up. 
  3. Put your hands over your head and reach for the sky! Stretch! Now, you’re going to go do this outside. You do not need to be dramatic about this.  And when you get outside, you’ll start with a walk around the block.
  4. If you cannot leave your computer right now, when can you go? Do you want to go play in Prospect Park, and go for a walk there?  If you haven’t been to the park in a while, put the date into your iCal!  
  5. Imagine other cities that you love. Do you love biking, walking, or just stretching and yoga? Do you like to go to the beach? Now, pick a date in the future and start planning your next play date with yourself in another city too! 

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Why Play Dates in the City?

It can be intimidating to go play around and be physical in a city. It’s not quite the same as going into your back-yard and being alone. Texting a friend is a great way to hold yourself accountable for getting outside and being active.  Better yet, you can call a friend and ask them if they’d like to go for a walk or a bike ride! The important thing to remember is that you can have a spontaneous play-date with yourself or with someone else! It is nice to experiment with both!

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What are some fun places to go in NYC? 

The Brooklyn Bridge Park is always breathtaking, with stunning views of the river and the bridges.  Prospect Park, designed by Olmstead (who brought us Central Park) is filled with beautiful birds and home to the Audubon society, located in the Boat House.  There are naturally other events as well, but it is important to remember, that even starting with a walk around your block, can be the first step (pun intended) to feeling free and at liberty to get physical activity. 

Other fun places year round are the New York Public Pools! Free, and huge, they offer wonderful and refreshing cool water. If you're interested in learning more, go to https://www.nycgovparks.org/facilities/indoor-pools.

If swimming in a public pool isn’t your thing, you can also check out the beaches. We often associate the beach with summer, but you can enjoy the beauty of NYC beaches late into fall. Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, and Jacob Riis Beach offer amazing boardwalks if you want to get outside and play, and also have a snack to fuel your body! 

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What’s the Silliest Play Date You’ve Had Outdoors?

Remember, part of playing and being physical is that it can actually feel silly.. And if you’re out of shape… hopeless! So, as you’re breathing deep and reading this, recall the silliest outdoor adventure you had and remember that once you commit to being physically active, spontaneous things will occur, I can guarantee it won’t be boring, because going outside to play is special.  The Silliest playdate I had as an adult was training for the NYC Marathon. I was in Central Park, attempting to run 12 miles. At mile 6 I got a hot dog from a street vender. I as so proud of myself for taking good care of my body (I know hot dogs aren’t exactly health) and admitting that I was hungry! And for the rest of my life, I have the pleasure of sharing the story about the time that I stopped running around and choose to just relax and eat a hot dog while walking, and getting my steps in, and training for the NYC Marathon.

Now, go out there, and create a little adventure in your life, too! You can do it.

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