The Importance of Play - part 3: Rediscovering Play

The Importance of Play - part 3: Rediscovering Play

“The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.”
— – Erik H. Erikson
Piggy-Back Carry

Piggy-Back Carry

HOW CAN WE REDISCOVER PLAY?

Playful movement does not need to be complicated. Lay it out in terms of basic movement patterns. Moves that are functional and possible to adapt for all – with challenges that can be scaled to each individual. You can piggy-back carry, focus on animal crawls and movements, or play games such as tag or plank tennis.

Use your imagination to make physical activity more interesting and to increase motivation. For example, if doing a bear crawl, imagine you're crawling under a low-hanging branch covered in thorns and change your body position accordingly. [1] It sounds like child's play, but engaging the brain in this fashion can increase muscle activation and make you work harder. [2]

SOME POINTERS FOR PLAY

The full benefits of play are possible when you stop viewing everything as an event with a specific goal in mind. Think of play the way a small child would – it just feels good to be running around, living life in the moment. 

Be willing to open up to others with a new, more playful personality. This playful aspect is perhaps the difficult part since society forces us to treat everything so seriously once we pass into adulthood. But even something as simple as sharing a joke with a random stranger, or goofing around with young kids can help you feel more confident about engaging in play with others.

Look for ways to build play into your schedule. Just as you would schedule a daily workout or lunch with friends, you can schedule “play-time.” Everybody has different ways to express this concept – “me time” or “personal time” are just two popular options – but it just refers to a block of unstructured time to recharge the mind and body. All the better if this “me time” also includes physical activity.

SETTING AN EXAMPLE FOR OUR KIDS TOO

One thing we understand as parents is that our kids are influenced by what we do or do not do as adults. If we demonstrate movement as being punitive, then our children will see movement and activity as punishing and something to fear. If we are playful and excited about activity, it gives our children an opportunity to enjoy movement too. Play is an essential activity regardless of age. As adults, it is absolutely critical to learn how to play again, it might just help us meet the physical activity guidelines for a start!

“We should seek to reclaim the enjoyment of movement that we experienced as children.”
— Darryl Edwards

By unlocking all the benefits of play, you will feel better, think better and have a more positive outlook on life. At both home and the office, you may even see a boost in your imagination and creativity too.

READ THE OTHER IMPORTANCE OF PLAY POSTS


References:
[1] "Paleo Fitness: Primal Training and Nutrition Program to Get Lean, Strong and Healthy", Darryl Edwards, Ulysses Press, 2013

[2] "Motor Control and Learning", Champaign IL, Human Kinetics, 1999