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So, I got the idea for this blog from a few sources.  First, a book called Original Strength by Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert explains in great detail how to reset your body back to how it was when you were young, with that flexible active body you had as a kid.  As we get older, we stop moving how we were meant to move, and then our bodies learn that we don’t need certain movements or ranges of motion, simply because we train them that we don’t.  Then, when you’re challenged to a game of Twister with your kids, you wonder what happened to that stretchy body you once had, and wonder where this new, creaky, cracky one came from.  Well, this book will explain that for you; I recommend you check it out.  Next, Dr. Andreo Spina is a genius when it comes to this stuff.  He actually trains people to become as mobile as they should be.  He also speaks a lot about this and other topics that are very important and interesting, but I’m not going to mention them all, but I highly encourage you to check him out as well.  You will learn a lot.  Lastly, my sister just had a baby boy, meaning I’m a first time aunt.  That being said, I immediately became very excited about teaching my new nephew all sorts of fun things, playing various sports with him, taking him hiking and biking, and eventually showing him the ropes in the gym.  (Literally, and figuratively).  I can only hope he enjoys being active as much as me!

Anyway, I’ll get to the point of this blog; I just wanted to give a shout out to some sources first.  When you are a baby, you can move almost to an unlimited extent.  As you get older, some of that mobility goes away due to bones fully developing and just a lack of use.  As a child, though, you are usually still very flexible and able to perform a plethora of physical tasks.  The older you get, the less mobility you have in your joints.  This, again, is from a lack of movement.  As we progress in age, we move less and less.  As a baby, you kick, you wave, you learn to move all of your body parts for the first time; each is a new discovery and intrigues you.  Once you move past the fact that you have two arms, two hands, ten fingers, etc., you no longer focus on moving these parts, and you only move them when necessary rather than moving them just to move them.  As a toddler and young child, you explore your world.  You move into small spaces, you climb, run, fall, jump, and crawl.  You constantly utilize your body whenever possible.  When you become school age, you move less.  You have to sit in a classroom for much of the day.  If you’re lucky, you get to be active in the classroom and you have ample outdoor recess time, however, this still doesn’t allow as much active time as our bodies were meant to get.

Think about when humans first came into existence.  We had to hunt and gather food.  We had to build shelter ourselves.  We had to run from predators, move long distances to find water, and basically just live a very physically and mentally challenging life in general.  Now, I’m not saying we should all just go out and start living exactly like our ancestors, but we can learn a thing or two from them.  From childhood, the problem of lack of movement only becomes worse and worse with age unless you are involved heavily in sports or other physical activity.  Most adults are not involved in any physical activity, or at least not a lot.  They are busy working 40+ hours per week and taking care of children and other duties.  Parents, however, should realize that “playing” with their child is important for the child and themselves.

A growing problem in the country today is that many parents cannot or do not physically play with their children.  This occurs for a variety of reasons.  One, they “don’t have time.”  I dislike this quote very much for reasons that would be topic for another blog post.  Two, they are obese or overweight and simply cannot do as much as a more fit parent could do.  Three, they don’t feel like it/don’t feel that it is necessary.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it is far from unnecessary.  I would consider it vital to your own and your child’s health, to your child’s development, and to your own and your child’s happiness and well being.  As a Personal Trainer who graduated college with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, I stand firm on the idea that physical activity is essential for happiness and well being.

Playing is what keeps children flexible, strong, and happy.  Have you ever noticed that your 8 year old daughter can probably do more pull-ups than you?  This isn’t always the case, but it is common.  Children run, jump, climb, throw, crawl, pretend to be animals, chase each other, hide, and many other things, all for fun.  They don’t “go take a jog” to “burn off that ice cream,” they “go play.”  “Play” is associated with “fun.”  When you “have to go to the gym,” that is associated with “work.”  “Work” is associated with negative emotion.  As a Personal Trainer, you can probably guess that I actually enjoy working out.  I do.  But I have a lot more fun going outside and actually playing.  In addition, play uses the body in a different way than most forced exercise does.  It uses the body in only natural ways.  As a kid, you don’t think about the way you jump, the way you run, the way you climb, etc.  You just do what comes natural.  If you give a child a dumbbell and tell them to do a dumbbell snatch, they’re going to look at you like you’re crazy.  Even after explaining what it is and how to do it, they’re going to look at you like you’re crazy.

The reason we work out, as Andreo Spina has said, is to make up for the fact that we no longer have to forage for food and other such activities cavemen did.  I think strength training is a wonderful tool to help you lose weight, build strength, and get healthy.  I am by no means saying that people shouldn’t go to the gym and “work out.”  What I am saying is that people should actually “play” as much as possible.  If working out is “play” for you, that’s fine.  But the rule is, it has to actually be FUN while you’re doing it!  If working out isn’t fun for you, which it isn’t for very many people, I want you to go have real fun while playing!  Go to the beach and build a sand castle.  Go in the woods and build a fort out of sticks, then go for a hike and climb a tree.  Crawl on the ground with your cat and pretend you are one in the same.  Okay, maybe people (or your cat) will look at you funny if you do that.  Heck, people might look at you funny if you do any of these if you’re over the age of 13.  But I’m trying to turn the world away from thinking it is weird to play.  I think everyone should play, no matter your age.

I realize that work often gets in the way of “life” for most people.  I know and understand that it is much easier to get off work and watch TV while you eat dinner and then go to bed and do it all again in the morning.  I am a human too.  Sometimes I just want to lay in bed and not move for a few hours.  This means we are tired, worn out, and just beat.  Take your rest.  A little off topic but equally important, this is another thing we can learn from kids.  They rest when they’re tired.  They don’t finish a game of tag, exhausted and out of breath, and move straight to a game of baseball without rest, saying, “I have to play all these games, no time to rest!”  We may think we don’t have time to rest, but we can make time.  Just like we can make time to play.  Cut out an hour of TV watching per day and there you go, rest and play time.  We as adults just don’t realize all the things we could make time for if we cut something unnecessary out.  I know, it isn’t always that easy, but there is always a way.

To conclude, I simply ask that you make it a point to add some “play” into your life.  Any kind of play works, whether it be a sport, or just playing as a child would, or even finding your own way to play.  As long as you are active, moving those joints and using those muscles, and having fun, you can consider it “play.”  Even better, get some friends, family, and pets involved!

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