Emphasize the PLAY in (P)hysica(L) (A)ctivit(Y)

Feb 23, 2011
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I often encourage parents, trainers, and coaches to look back and remember how much fun came from the countless hours many of us spent playing in our backyards, parks and physical education classes that helped us develop basic movement fundamentals without even realizing it. We were having too much fun to even notice! And then I encourage him or her to look at youth today and compare how much “play” many of them get to experience. 

It is no secret that all our populations are suffering and physical fitness programs that emphasize physical, mental and social exercises are urgent concerns to improve the health, mental and physical functions of all ages.  This suffering is in part due to less exposure, fewer spaces and fewer opportunities to engage and enjoy physical activity in the form we once had.  And in the digital world we live in, physical activity is replaced with more sedentary activities.

It seems as though this shift away from moving through play, the way in which many basic fundamentals are learned, is toward more focus on fine motor and brain activities.  As these are also essential, I am a believer in the solid principal “A sound mind is a sound body”.  I was reminded of the importance of this recently in November 2010, when I was invited to present at the Iowa Association for Health Physical Education Recreation & Dance for a seminar on autism and another for alzheimers.

History has taught us, as it states in the Davenport Turnegemeinde, that stress posture, coordination, daily physical training can preserve fitness for the next generation.  Without having the true chance to just “play” and gain essential gross motor skills through play, many youth struggle to find fun or build confidence in fitness activities.

The concept and importance of incorporating play inspired me to write my latest book, 101 Games & Activities for Youth with Autism.  In the next following segments, I will highlight three exercises in my book to start to emphasize the PLAY in PhysicaL ActivitY, tips to integrate them quickly and simply, and the materials necessary to get started.

  • Emphasize the PLAY in PhysicaL ActivitY Exercise 1: Raise the Bar
  • Emphasize the PLAY in PhysicaL ActivitY Exercise 2: Hula Hoop
  • Emphasize the PLAY in PhysicaL ActivitY Exercise 3: Ready Set GO!

Author: suzanne



  • Anonymous

    This is great. It encourages me to organize exercise routines daily.

  • Suzanne

    I’m so glad you like it!

  • BobLujano

    No doubt that structured activites are very important to recreation development. However, a very undervalued development is play. Kudos to those who include free time or play in their recreation programming.