Remember when you were a kid, how carefree you were, and perhaps your only worries were whether you’d make the team for a game of kickball, baseball or whatever game your friends and schoolmates were playing? You certainly didn’t think about paying the mortgage or high property taxes, or if you should have the house painted this year or next. Play was the thing. It was fun and absorbed your energies until it was time to go home for dinner, or later on, to do your homework. Play was good for you, whatever it was, and whatever the time of year. Ice skating, sledding and perhaps skiing in the winter, swimming in the summer, or even when you were a toddler making castles in the sand, or swinging as far out as you could, and sliding down the slide front ways and backwards. Playing was your only job then. You were a kid, you didn’t have any more responsibilities other than playing when you were very young, and as you got older, helping with some simple chores at home.
Well, you not only can still play, but studies show that you should play. You should make time to do so every day, even, and especially on a work day. Recreational playing can be therapeutic. It eases stresses, taking your mind off of difficulties at work or with problems that may seem insurmountable to you. Recreational playing is often like taking a “happy pill.” Playing develops pheromones that make people feel good. Recreational play is also great for your physical health. It will keep you active and moving. Using the time you might want to crash and veg-out because of a hard day, to play instead will actually energize you and make you less tired. Don’t abandon the child in you. Choose recreational things to take part in. These will be your adult play. You can still do many of the play activities that you did as a kid, and more importantly, you can do them with your own kids. You can all be kids together, during your playtime together which is great for family togetherness and contentment.
Depending upon the age of your children, and do include your spouse, you can make castles in the sand, take turns throwing balls to each other, and if you have a dog, to the dog as well. Playing ball with your little ones is a great way to hone their throwing and catching skills (and maybe yours too). This is preparing them for little league teams and many school play activities. If you’re a skier, and even if you aren’t, you can start kids skiing on easy bunny hills as young as two. If you’re not a skier you and your kids can learn together. It is the same with skating, both ice and roller skating. Take your kids to swim classes or take them swimming with flotation aids, again as young a two, sometimes even younger. Get in the water with them! Later on, as they are a bit older you can even have swimming races. Another water sport, something the Kennedy family loved to do together, is sailing. Again, even young children can literally learn the ropes. The Kennedys also loved tag football games. This can be fun for you and your family as well.
Going biking as a family is a great bonding activity. Toddler bike seats are very prevalent and it’s a great way to accustom your children to biking. Hiking, or going for a walk or run together, is also great for kids and adults. If you are close with other families with kids of the same age, it’s good for several families to get together, perhaps once or twice a week for playtime. If you instill play and recreation as part of your children’s lives, by the time they are teens and young adults it will be part of their life philosophy as well. Remember in all your activities it’s “monkey see monkey do.” If you are active in recreational play, whatever it is, your children will naturally want to emulate you, when they are little and into their adulthood. This will serve them the rest of their lives. It will be one of the best gifts you can give them.
If you aren’t married, or don’t have a spouse or significant other, you can still be a recreational player. There are many team sports where you can have adult playmates, like tennis, golf, volleyball, basketball, soccer, and a variety of other team activities. You can also enjoy recreational playing as a solo player. Swimming, skiing, biking, and skating are just a sampling of solo play. You can even just shoot hoops by yourself, seeing how many baskets you can score.
If you have a dog, you automatically have a playmate. Dogs love to fetch the balls you throw, and they love to run or walk with you. Having a dog is one of the best ways for a single person to get out and play.
Your health club is also a great place to play. If the weather in inclement and you can’t bike outside, take a trip on a stationary bike, or play volleyball, pop balls into a basketball hoop, or go for a run or walk on the treadmill instead of outside. Indoor tennis is very big in Wisconsin. The Elite Sports Clubs, for example, have a number of indoor tennis courts for recreational play. Often you can pick up a tennis partner at your club, or just practice with the ball machine.
So remember, take the time to play, every day, with your family, your friends, your significant other, your spouse, your pet, or just by yourself. Play every day for yourself and your inner child. You’ll be happier, healthier, and you’ll be able to cope with your adult life’s problems in a better way.
This article was written by Arlene Becker and previously published in Modern Health and Living, a Milwaukee publication dedicated to health and nutrition that focuses on traditional, complementary, and integrative medicine.
This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material in this article is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.