Get out and Play!

Updated: February 5, 2013
Rocky Mountain Pond HockeyAvon, CONottingham Lake

Hey, parents! Remember being a child and counting down the days till summer break? Dreaming of that day when you would kick off your shoes and stay outside until your mom called you in for dinner, and then back outside to catch fireflies or play games in the twilight.

Remember when all you needed was a cardboard box or a couple of sheets to keep you entertained for an entire day making forts or playing make believe?

As the technological age advances and we get busier and busier, one thing is slowly disappearing from our lives: good old fashioned play. We seem to be disappearing from the outside world, dependent on some kind of glowing box for our entertainment needs. Whether it be television, your cellphone, computer, or a hand-held video game.
There are now TV shows, games and online communities like Second Life where you can experience all life’s pleasures virtually. No need to learn to play football, you can be a star on screen.  No need to feel the thrill of skiing down a mountain, you can experience it danger free in your favorite game.

As real physical play decreases for our children, so does their creativity, ability to problem-solve in real world situations, and make social connections.  As the best outlet to release stress and expend energy becomes virtually non-existent, consequences of this lifestyle such as
depression, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, developmental and social problems become more prevalent.

Why play??

  • Important to healthy brain development
    • Helps children to develop physical, cognitive and emotional strength
      • Enhance confidence and resiliency to face real world challenges
      • Gain leadership, decision making and group skills


What type of play??
• Undirected play allows children to learn how to work in groups, to share, to negotiate, to resolve conflicts, and to learn self-advocacy skills.

• Play that includes physical exertion:  The California Department of Education found that kids who were deemed fit scored twice as well on academic tests as those who were unfit.

What can we do?

  • No TV!  Allow children only one hour of TV or video games a day. This will allow them to use their creativity to think of ways to entertain themselves
  • Get “wild”:  Go on a nature hike in a park around the neighborhood collecting insects and flowers.
  • Sign them up for a summer youth sports program and/or a youth fitness program


It’s time to get out and play.  Get out the old ball and glove, teach your kids how to play a new sport or game, get active with them now and give them all those experiences you cherished as a child playing outdoors.

Lauren Jones is a fitness professional and co-founder of Animal Fitness, a company that sets up “wild’ fitness courses, part adventure race, part scavenger hunt, part obstacle course with games and traditional exercises built in.  They are rolling out courses for kids ages 6-12 in June.  

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