Play's an integral part of our program at AIM and there's so many reasons why. We all have fond memories of our childhood, growing up playing games, mucking around with our mates, or participating in team sports (for fun or competitive reasons). These activities help to shape us into the people we are today. When I think back to my childhood memories, all the good times revolved around playing… Running around the house with my little brother getting up to mischief (pretty sure we both dreamed we were going to be professional wrestlers at one point). We made friends around the neighbourhood by participating in games of football, cricket or whatever else was happening at the time. It was playing these team sports (rugby in particular), that helped me break down the language barrier, helping me make new friends when I moved to boarding school in the UK. It played such an important part in making connections and developing friendships. Play is in our DNA! It allows us to be creative, help us develop our imagination and dexterity while building physical, cognitive & emotional strength. It’s only through play that we start to learn to engage & interact with the world around us. Sadly, this innate behaviour is being lost and with it all the great stuff play facilitates for us to grow as better humans. It’s easy to sit back and look at some of the reasons behind this loss. For most it could be due to lack of environment. It could be that our culture doesn’t encourage play – it simply isn’t something adults do! Physical benefits are routinely measured by numbers or acquiring certain skills – reps, sets, load/weight, body composition, skills. There is no metric for play, which may be a barrier for some. For few, it could boil down to lack of confidence and/or little to no physical preparedness – unaware or uncoordinated, lack strength or mobility, or the possibility of injury. There’s a saying – "stiff minds lead to stiff bodies." To me, these are the very reasons we all need to PLAY! “You don't stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing.” Play in our species has been a vital part of our success. It allows us to better connect with ourselves; to connect, engage & interact with others to develop social & emotional intelligence; to explore, articulate & express ourselves 😊 PLAY is such a powerful tool, it: Drives activity that helps maintain and develop motor skills. We play to develop skills and movement capabilities (speed/agility/athletic performance). Facilitates social bonding and can help with stress management. Research indicates that certain forms of play serve to lower stress hormones and help in developing cognitive and creative skills. There is a large volume of evidence-based research that has found a state of play stimulates the production of our feel good hormones. Play increases endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that … [Read more...] about Play: Use it or lose it!!