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A “Play” for Health

January 19, 2010

I read a blog entry today on Divine Caroline that posed a simple solution to the chronic diseases – diabetes, heart disease, obesity, etc. – that plague our society. Simply, put: we need to play!

While this lack of play certaintly is more of an issue for adults, it’s a growing problem for children as well. As schools continue to cut recess and physical education; as kids spend more time in front of a screen than outside; there is little room remaining for the joys of unstructured play.

I think this lack of opportunity for play is what makes Girls on the Run so appealing for children AND for their adult coaches. While the program is heavily structured in the sense that it is designed to deliver very specific messages, the curriculum creates time and opportunity for play. If you’ve ever observed or coached a GOTR session, you’ll know what I mean: most of the time the girls don’t even realize that they are running because they’re having so much fun PLAYING. You probably also noticed the coaches playing right along beside the girls!

So what can we as adults do, other than coach GOTR, to get our play on? The obvious answer is organized sports – and this, in the form of tennis, is my primary playtime. But you don’t have to be an athlete to play – thus the term “unstructured.” Do you play tag with your kids? Chase the dog around the house or yard? You may not realize it, but by doing these types of things you’re improving your mental and physical health in incredible ways.

Check out this article from the Centre Daily Times about how to make physical activity fun for you and your kids.

How do you play? Let me know about some of your favorite play activites, either as a family or solo, at gotr.atl@gmail.com.

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