What is the most important thing I can do to improve my health today?
This is #3 in the series. Last time we talked #2, which was walking more.
So? Have you?
If you missed it, check it out, here.
So, what’s #3?
You probably thought it was going to be something harder, huh?
Well, not so fast, it just seems easy. In fact, you might find it hard to play, as easy as it sounds. Think about it, when was the last time you played softball when it wasn’t at the family reunion? Volleyball with friends? Bowling? Darts.
Most of us talk about how we love to cycle, play frisbee, or hike, but these things don’t really happen all that often, do they? We talk a good talk, but we seldom walk the walk.
It both is and isn’t our fault. We are so busy with the important things that aren’t playing that we simply don’t have time or make time to play.
…or, is there a stigma against play?
Certainly kids still play, hence the stenciled words on this school playground wall, but more and more adults do not play. Why is that?
Personally, I think it’s a learned response combined with the vicious circle effect that comes from not playing, which means less activity and exercise, which leaves us in increasingly worse health, with then makes playing even harder. Can you say “poor movement quality?” Can you play with poor movement quality? It’s not so easy…
Combine all this with our ‘need’ to constantly be online and connected to facebook, email, twitter, and the ever increasing number of online social networks via our iPads, iPhones, the most awesome Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and now Kindles and eReaders that pop you online just as easily as last year’s laptops did.
We are always online, and even when we do take our kids to the park to play, the limit to most parents’ playing is games of Words with Friends! Friends who aren’t even there at the park, I might ad.
Over time, all of this has led to a stigma against adult play, I think. We aren’t used to doing it and we aren’t used to seeing it. No one wants to look goofy. Another vicious circle, but it doesn’t have to keep going this way. We don’t have to spiral in.
We’ve played a long time
“The marked quantity of play-related finds and the structured distribution shows that playing was already an important part of people’s everyday lives more than 4,000 years ago,” – Elke Rogersdotter
Throughout history, we played. In fact, archaeological excavations have uncovered signs of serious play in 4,000 year old ancient digs in Pakistan. Dice and games were all over the place. In fact, every tenth significant find was play related!
In the olden days, it wasn’t just board games and dice, either. Games like football, basketball, and soccer have ancient roots.
“The Munich Ethnological Museum exhibit in Germany includes a Chinese text from approximately 50 B.C. that describes physical education exercises called tsu chu, which consist of kicking a leather ball filled with feathers and hair into a small net—and,like in soccer today, the use of hands was prohibited (Goldblatt 2008).” – Source Random History
Play is tradition, so it shouldn’t have a stigma, whether you’re an adult, a child, or an adult child.
Play is fun, but it’s the kind of fun that has withstood the test of time. I’m sure video games will be around forever, but sitting and staring at a computer screen is part of my job, and I think we need play that takes us away, even for a few minutes. Computer games are too similar, and it’s too easy to jump right back to work. Pretty soon, you’re not playing anymore.
Play is activity, and activity is like exercise, only more fun. Almost all of us need more reasons to move. I can preach exercise all day long, but there’s only so much exercise one can do before you’re overtrained, tired, or sore. But playing? Playing is a simple way to get your movement on without the stress of organized exercise.
- it’s like exercise, but fun
- like exercise, play burns calories and gets your movement on
- it’s fun (or you’re doing it wrong)
- it’s done with friends, which is good
- it helps with stress relief
- as I said in #2 (remember walking more?), movement is important, walk, exercise, or play. Your choice…
- takes your mind off the stuff that’s not playing
- most play is natural movement (running, jumping, etc), and full body exercise
- mental play is… well, it’s mental, but fun.
How to play [more]
Find opportunities to play. It’s not that hard. Kids do it all the time, by the rules, breaking them, or making their own. If the rules don’t fit they make new ones. Kids without two full teams made up ‘over the line’ and ‘three flies up,’ I’m sure. Kids without a field or equipment came up with stickball and kick-the-can!
…and if they didn’t have enough guys for that, they played catch.
“I’m going to play ball with the fellas.” – Theodore Cleaver
‘Play ball’ isn’t very specific, but I don’t think he cared. He just wanted to play.
So, what can you play?
- Hide ‘n Seek
- Three Flies Up
- Over the Line
- Butts Up
- Skinny dipping
- Standup paddling
Last time, I told you to walk, and if you were already walking, to walk more. Of course, in the olden days, we didn’t walk for exercise, because we walked for work, and when we weren’t working, we still didn’t exercise, we played. If you don’t play, you’re going to have to exercise, so to save yourself that hassle, play.
Let’s do this! Go forth and play!
Our friend, awesome trainer Roger Lawson, taking a play break behind Galya’s MoveWell Studio.
Next week, I bring you the #4 easy change to improve your health. I wonder what it will be…
#1 – Cook (or cook more)
#2 – Walk (and walk more)
#3 – Play (or else)