Quite often, when our children return from afternoon play, they look exhausted and ready for a nap. That is the most accurate description and quite the truth. Play is hard work. It is exhausting to the mind and body of the young person and plays an extremely important role in helping them to become productive, healthy citizens.
The role of exercise and play in a young child’s life provides them with many benefits. Exercise of the body is an important part of keeping the young body fit as it grows into an adult body. When we reach adulthood, if we have had the benefit of exercise and play, we tend to continue that habit into our adult years.
What else is to be gained from the opportunities that play affords? We often participate in organized sports, coordinated play times, and are a member of a large group during all of these activities. Play on this level teaches us how to interact with our peers, develop camaraderie, and perform as a team with other players. These skills are absolute necessities in today’s business world. But what else is happening here, during this time of play and exercise?
What we learn in body language, coping skills, and the interaction of the mind and body during our interaction with others, is invaluable. When we learn these skills well, we not only learn how to interact with others, we learn how to interact with ourselves. Interact with our self? That seems like a pointless exercise, but it is an all-important part of maintaining our health and wellness. There are times that our bodies try to tell us things about our physical or mental condition, and we simply refuse to listen. If we have learned how to listen to others around us when they attempt to point out a need or desire, we have a useful tool in listening to ourselves. This often can mean the difference between optimal health and creating an unhealthy situation.
What else do we learn? We learn what our physical and mental limitations are. During play, you see children and young adolescents push themselves to the very limit. But as children, we are better able to distinguish between a real limit versus what society deems our limits. As a child or young adult, the pressures of the world do not weigh on us as they do when we are adults. We are better keepers of the temple at ten than we are at twenty. We are still very in tune with what our body tells us because it is our true master as a child. As an adult, we have let outside influences master our body and mind and dominate our time.
As you can see, the benefits to be gained during our exercise and playtime as children is a benefit to us for the remainder of our lives. Too often, we adults forget the importance of exercise and play and the principles that are to be learned from time spent in these activities. We want to rush our children into their daily responsibilities, forgetting that their chief responsibility during the younger years is the play and interaction of young minds.