Last week’s post on the buddy system got me thinking about the importance of general camaraderie in physical activity, beyond just the fact that having a person who relies on you to work out will get you off your butt and moving. I think you can go further than a single buddy – how about an entire team of them?
I don’t know where I’d be without my weekly Ultimate Frisbee games. That may sound silly or infantile, but I’m serious: it keeps me sane, melts the stress away, and represents an opportunity to keep up with friends (in person, not over some social network or through texting). In other words, it’s my primary form of playing. And though I realize it’s ultimately my fault, I don’t think I play up Play enough around here. Sure, there was the Definitive Guide some time back, and we all remember the post on dance (no, I still haven’t uploaded any videos), but it really deserves more emphasis. It’s one of those aspects of life that seems to fall by the wayside, even as you intellectually acknowledge its importance. Heck, with children having trouble getting a good solid play session in these days without strict adherence to a daily planner, is it any wonder that adults need the occasional nudge toward carefree play?
So consider today’s post an official nudge.
For this next introduction – or re-hashing, for some of you – of an essential Primal concept, I’ll be covering the three basic Primal laws of fitness (click the image to zoom in). This one can be the most difficult hurdle for some. If you’re carrying a personal history of weight gain, for example, you’re most likely somewhat inactive, too. Being overweight, you see, leads to inactivity. And yeah, being inactive can perpetuate the weight gain, but it usually starts with a bit of added weight and the sluggishness that comes along for the ride. Good times, right? They end this month.
Truth be told, we humans are an eccentric lot. Healthy food, vigorous activity, sleep, sun and shelter represent basic necessities for living, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fully thriving. That’s been the Friday theme these last few weeks. We’re social animals, nature lovers, intellectual organisms, imaginative creatures. The evolved brain begs to be used, and the body is stressed – or at least falls short of optimal functioning – when the mind isn’t engaged. A couple weeks ago I wrote about the power of an enriched environment – how intellectual challenge literally boosts immune function. There’s more to this picture than the Sunday crossword, however. We evolved to be creative, artistic, inventive. Wouldn’t you know it, the natural impetus lingers to this day with practical – and sometimes dramatic – results for our physiological well-being.
Ever watch dogs at play, carefree? Next time you go on an off-leash hike with a canine, or even just a walk around the neighborhood, watch how they just jog along. Assuming they aren’t in pursuit of cat, squirrel, or pedestrian, it’s an easy trot, an effortless series of flicks of the ankle joints. It’s smooth, and their heads and shoulders stay mostly level with the ground. No off balanced dipping or stumbling. Oh, sure, the composure goes out the window when a frisbee’s let fly and they tear off after it, tongue flapping and fur rustling and muscles pumping, but to watch a calm, curious off-leash dog trot around, checking out the surroundings, sniffing, and just taking it all in is to watch an animal at total, complete ease in his own (furry) skin. We can learn a lot from watching dogs, as I have from my own Yellow Lab, Buddha.
Though it’s an important aspect of the Primal Blueprint, the concept of play doesn’t get enough attention around here. I guess by virtue of its very nature this is to be expected. Play should be spontaneous and freeing, and the regimentation of our leisure time is what we’re trying to avoid! Still, given the time-sucking realities of adult responsibility, maybe we all need a few suggestions for new ways to play. I’m not talking about making play dates or anything, but a few concrete examples could really help. You know, something that’s free, that you can share with friends and family, and that’s fun. How about dancing?
Dancing? Bear with me, here.
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