- It makes you smarter, increasing the functions of the hippocampus and has been known to fight off and delay Alzheimer’s disease.
- It helps with positive engagement and improved interpersonal skills such as conflict management and motivation.
- It decreases stress, tension and anger whilst increasing energy
Saturday, 22 October 2011
Can you come and play?
Back in the day
Like most of you, I have great memories of my childhood. I grew up in South Africa during the 80’s and although this was a dark period in the history of our country, as a ten year old in 1986, I was concerning myself with only a few things- Rugby (played barefoot until the age of 14), riding around with my “gang” on our BMX’s and playing.
Playing consisted of anything and everything you can think of. Climbing trees and building tree houses, building obstacles from garden furniture to dive over into the pool in the back yard or making a catapult and trying to “hunt “the bats at dusk.
But by far the best games were those we played in big groups and almost always involved running, jumping and a bit of rough play. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Games such as Bull dog, Kiss chase, Stuck in the mud and dodge ball (the S.A. version consisted of a wet tennis ball that, when thrown with skill and speed will sting like mad and most definitely leave a bruise! Something you were eager to show off to your dad as a sign of your toughness, crazy I know.)
Little did we know or even care that these activities developed foot speed, stamina, lateral agility and strength. Mentally it developed competition which is a good thing for children believe it or not. We didn’t play because it was good for us; we played because it was fun.
But times have changed and I’m afraid that we have lost the ability of active play. Aside from all the new technology, I believe a mind shift has occurred in society, frowning on natural play. As adults it gets even worse- 60 hour work weeks, KPI’s and career progression seems to be the key to our work life balance. Note that we don’t say life work balance. We are getting more stressed and have less time for social engagement and we do not realise that this is affecting our productivity. It is no secret that physical activity is the most successful method to reduce stress so why are we not playing more?
Benefits of play.
Believe it or not but playing is the most natural thing for humans to do. We use both mind and body to play, as you well now. We dance, we gamble, we conduct complex sports games using ball and sticks, we form teams and leagues around these games, we follow professionals who play in such leagues for massive sums of money, we pose and solve puzzles and riddles. We play games and sports, and have been doing so for thousands of years. So what are the benefits of actually partaking in play?
All of the above will make you more productive in your work environment whilst strengthening your home relationships.
How to Play
You can play everywhere and anytime. Start by being creative and spontaneous with little or no equipment .Some people already play 5 a side football twice a week in their lunch breaks but what about the rest of us that is not that into Football or sport but still enjoy being active?
Well, when in doubt go back to the tried and tested games. Tag (or it) can be played almost anywhere and with anyone, work colleagues or just the family over the weekend in the local park. The version that I am about to describe is not my idea, but it does sound like great fun.
You will need to be dressed for running as this is what you will be doing a lot of. A group of 5 will be a good start although less will also work. To find out who will be “it “first, everyone needs to do 5 burpees. The one that finishes last is “it “and the game can start. As the first person gets tagged, they need to do 5 pushups, when they tag the next person the pushups increase to 10 and so on until you reach 20 pushups. Then change the forfeit to air squats, sit-ups, maybe pull-ups from a sturdy branch. Your options are limitless. The Idea is that you will be running your heart out not to get caught and have to do a forfeit, thus burning fat like there is no tomorrow whilst having a laugh. Inevitably there will be the slower few that will do a disproportionate amount of push ups, sit ups or squats. But this will only make them stronger and faster. After 30-40min of this you will be exhausted, laughing and looking forward to your next week’s session. This is also so much more fun than 40min on the treadmill at a set speed. This can be done throughout winter as well as you will warm up quite quickly doing this sort of running around so no excuse not to try this at work over the next few weeks.
Do you have any Ideas of Fitness Play? Please share with us so that the pool of games can be increased and all can benefit.
See you on the playground!