As we get older a number of things happen, we get more stressed, busy, distracted, frustrated at how fast the time goes, and most importantly we forget to play. I will be following up soon with blog about adding more Integrated Movement into your day soon, but for this article, I just want to stick with simple play.
What I wrote above goes for people who don't exercise, as well as people who do exercise. One would assume that exercise would lead to more active lifestyles, but from my experience it often does the opposite. We look to the gym as our only source of activity, and it often even becomes a bit of a burden. Look at people who have big fitness goals, very often they won't try other activities such as snowboarding, or wake boarding, or anything else for fear that those will interfere with "the gains", or we may get injured which would take away from our fitness goals. But this is the wrong mentality to have, our fitness should be designed to make us more active in other physical activities, or training should make us less afraid of an injury than more afraid.
Playing even as adults can be very beneficial. I reminder when CrossFit first became a thing, and we though of the boxes as a "playground for adults", and this is still true, but it's sadly still far from optimal. Many of the movements as very rigid, and repetitive, and all planned out, there is no real "play", we follow rules, and we have a goal to finish the WOD as fast as possible. This is the opposite of play. When we play, we don't think about rules, we don't think about "how can I make this end faster?", and and we don't plan each movement we make in advance. In play you simply react, and those reactive movements can results in any thousands of combinations of non-technical movements, crawling rolling, sharp turns, leaps, and bounds, the combinations are endless.
Play also allows for us to laugh, to let go of all of our stress (lowers cortisol), creates an optimistic outlook on life even when things aren't going perfectly, and even improve relationships, it creates bondings, and enjoyment for all. Play has even been correlated with serious crime, or I should say the lack of play "lack of play was just as important as other factors in predicting criminal behavior among murderers in Texas prisons" (Dr. Stuart Brown in his book Play).
So get out there, jump into some waves at a windy beach, wrestle the dog, strap on a pair of roles blades, head down to the mini-cart park, head to the trampoline gym, what ever you do, just have fun.