Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Importance of Play

 Have you ever noticed yourself doing something or an aspect of your lifestyle that you enjoy doing but never really gave it much thought as to why? Often I field these types of questions.....

 "You are almost 50 so why do you push yourself so hard?"
 "I don't understand why you want to cycle 100kms?"
 "Why do you play hockey when you know you will be sore afterwards?"
 "You cycled how far? Are you nuts?"
 "How can you be so motivated?"
 " Why do you want to do sprint intervals. Thats like work?"
"You got that bruise from blocking a shot from the point?Ouch!"
"Why bike commute when you have a car?"

Well for whatever the reason(the clarity of thought from an intermittant fast today?) I actually took the time on my windy bike commute home to ponder the whys? First reaction was because it kept me in shape and that is why I do what I do. Maybe not......the gym kept me in shape. Running keeps me in better shape but I gave up my gym membership and run only as required. If it was all about fitness I would become a true dietary zealot.....far stringent than I am now.

The competition. That is why I do what I do...I like the thrills of competition. Wait.....I quit softball back in the day cause it was too competitive. I race Cat C rather than Cat B cause it is less serious....a competition "lite" category. I play pickup ball hockey after years playing in competitve leagues because I got tired of the egos and attitudes.

Stress! I do it to burn off stress. While it is true being active does help it cannot be the only factor. I have serveral stress remedies; sleeping, red wine, food - grocery shopping(go figure?),vacation days, intimacy(wink),archery, blogging and gardening. Heck...watching the Comedy Channel helps with stress.....laughter is the best medicine.  Gotta be more too it than just stress.

What drives me? What motivates me to go out and, in the words of my spouse, act like I'm 20? Why do I continue to get on the bike, or play nets,run the gym floor forechecking or do intervals and rock jumps when I know the next day the aging body protests with aches, pains and stiffness. Why do I go to my chiropractor to work out the kinks, improve my posture and address subluxations so I can turn around and do it all over again?

In the words of a friend why don't I just..."sit on the couch, watch TV, drink beer and eat chicken wings."

Ironically on the bike commute home facing gale force wind gusts the answer came to me while struggling to keep the bike moving forwards and upwards.....

It is play. I like participating and pushing myself because it is fun. Through athletics I play.....through playing I have fun. Pretty darn simple. Then I thought about it more. As adults we encourage our children to play and have fun. Play is important to their social development and people skills. At some point(age) society seems to dictate that we are now adults and do not need to play. We are ingrained to shed our "childlike" ways and become responsible grownups.  Ladies and gentlemen - The Pursuit Of Happiness.......

Maybe thats part of the reason why our society seems to be going down the proverbial tubes. As adults we have forgotten to play........or at least play on a regular basis.

     "Play is the gateway to vitality. By its nature it is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding. It generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community. Each of these play by-products are indices of personal health, and their shortage predicts impending health problems and personal fragility."

Ever notice how most adults get excited about Halloween and St. Patricks Day. An excuse to be a kid again, dress up and....have fun! Its all about play and the wellbeing that results from just having fun playing at something you enjoy to do.

     "When you get really engrossed in an activity you enjoy, you can experience a state of being known as flow, in which your brain is in a near-meditative state, which has benefits for your for your body, mind and soul."

  So that is why I do what I do. No ego trips, no delusions of grandeur,no macho-isms, no attempting to turn back the biological clock. It `s all about play and having fun. Yes - it was a hard commute home today but it was still fun. In fact any day on the bike is usually a fun day.

  Sing like no one is listening and dance like no one is watching.Find something(anything) you like to do and get out there and play.


Cari said...

Great post! So true. Now you have me pondering what it is I do for play on a regular basis. I've been feeling a little lost lately in regards to what my passions are. It seems way too easy to get caught up in day to day "stuff" and lose what you're passionate about. Maybe I just need to have a good think about what I do that makes my mind flow and make a point of doing that more often. Thanks for sharing.

Cari said...

me again! i've just caught up on all your blog posts over the last little while. i've been way behind! anyway, just want to say that i'm feeling really inspired to get back to eating better since reading through. i haven't been doing all that great lately and it's really catching up with me. thanks for sharing all the great info...it's all so interesting! keep up the great blogging! :)