Play Out

Forget working out. It sounds like work. Instead, play out. Literally. Find a way to play every day—preferably outdoors. The benefits to your health, happiness, and longevity cannot be understated. Here are a few:

Play for Longevity

Health is dependent on physical and mental fitness and psychological happiness. No drug or activity known to mankind can increase all three except playful exercise. And if you have physical, mental, and psychological happiness, you may play (and possibly live) forever. Really. All the buzz in the longevity research going on today follows a single common pathway: modifying the genetic material that lives on our genes, called the epigenome, to switch it from reproductive to survival mode.  

The top researchers in the field of longevity focus on aging as a curable disease; one that can be treated by various cellular-scale interventions. The researchers highlight how limiting food intake, reducing loads of amino acids from meat and dairy, eating more vegetables, and applying heat and cold to the entire body, produce a type of stress that activates our longevity genes to shift into survival mode.

And every lifespan-lengthening therapy—whether it’s the use of drugs and amino acids such as Metformin, NAD, NMN, or  Reservetrol, the participation in light, laser, resonance, or cold/hot immersions, or the infusions of vitamins, PRP and stem cells—has been shown to produce the effects that are also gained and probably better achieved by daily exercise.

Exercise not only increases muscles and blood flow; it also lengthens telomeres, which protect chromosomes from aging. A major CDC-sponsored study showed that people who exercise daily had telomeres that appeared a decade “younger” than those who did not1.

Exercise increases NAD levels, which in turn activate the survival network. All the key enzymes that modify the epigenome to induce longevity (called AMPK, mTOR, and sirtuins) are increased by exercise. And some exercise is better than others. While high-intensity interval training is the best stimulant for longevity gene activation, playful exercise is the best combination for the health of the mind and body. 

The social interactions and environmental appreciation that come from playing outdoors, with other people, far exceed what can be done in a gym. Use the gym when necessary (weather, time constraints, etc.) but actively seek alternatives. Spend the money usually wasted on supplements and passive therapies at alternative health clinics on your outdoor play program. And this applies not only to the disease of aging but to Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well. Recent data from a large-scale Parkinson’s study2 demonstrated markedly improved balance and proprioception from daily exercise and in Alzheimer’s, mental games dramatically improved information recall.

Longevity genes are turned on by exercise. Happiness is promoted by play. Combine the two every day and the addiction to the adrenaline, testosterone, pheromones, and endorphins coursing through your bloodstream will combine with the smile on your face to promote the kind of healthy happiness that permits you to live and play forever. Forget working out. Play out. Every day.

Medically authored by
Kevin R. Stone, MD
Orthopaedic surgeon, clinician, scientist, inventor, and founder of multiple companies. Dr. Stone was trained at Harvard University in internal medicine and orthopaedic surgery and at Stanford University in general surgery.