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The Wonders of Play and Engaging Your Feet Every Day

Mother and Son playing barefoot. Photo from Pexels.com

Growing up, play was a fundamental part of our day. Whether at home, in the yard, on the playground, or at school, we spent a lot of time moving and challenging our bodies physically. Unfortunately, for many of us, as we progress through different stages of our lives, play is gradually replaced by a lifestyle revolving around sedentary activities. From riding bikes to driving cars; going out to socialise to spending too much time on social media; running to the supermarket to having your groceries delivered to your doorstep; and so on; adulthood and the ever-evolving advancements in technology have not only made us lazier but also susceptible to several chronic diseases that come with disconnecting from play and overall movement.

Now, you might look at your day-to-day life or work schedule and think it is near impossible to incorporate any form of play into your daily schedule, however, before you draw such conclusions, it’s important to know what ‘play’ is; only then will you better understand how you can include some play time into your busy schedule.

The Definition of Play

Lems Trailhead V2. Barefoot Shoes

Sports, games, outdoor activities, and anything that involves running, walking, rolling, swimming, crawling and other such movements can all be classified as play. When you engage yourself in a physical activity that facilitates various movements and helps you refine certain skills, regular practice of the same provides the body and mind with a variety of benefits. 

Getting together with neighbours and friends for a game of basketball or even a jog is a wonderful way to engage in some play time while enjoying the social interaction that comes with it. Of course, reconnecting with nature by way of hiking, climbing, or swimming at the beach are all great opportunities to play and appreciate the beauty of our natural surroundings. The mental benefits that come with spending time in nature are unparalleled, and the added perks of playing in this environment certainly make up the icing on the cake!

The Benefits of Play for the Body & Feet

woman standing outdoors in Natural Footwear

Physically, your body requires a variety of movements on a regular basis in order for it to function well. When you deprive it of play – which contributes to a vast number of movements that your body is not accustomed to due to a sedentary lifestyle – it will struggle to adapt to the many different changes that come with age. Furthermore, regular play makes your body resilient and builds it in many ways which, in turn, helps to reduce the likelihood of injury.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific ways in which play benefits the feet and body.

Keeps Your Body Healthy

If you want to build a robust body, play is just the thing you need. It keeps you limber, helps to keep excess body weight to a minimum, and increases your stamina. Of course, excessive playing or strenuous physical activity can leave your body feeling sore, or put a strain on your joints; therefore, it is important to start off slow when introducing your body to these different movements. 

Builds Muscle & Strength

Weakness and weak muscles set off a chain reaction in your body, causing devastating damage to your bones, joints, and even internal organs. As one grows older, it is critically important to maintain muscle mass, and build strength so that your body has the means to function optimally. Since different forms of play or physical activity put your muscles to work, you can build them up while also increasing your overall strength.

Improves Your Footwork

Being agile comes with its own set of advantages both for the body and feet. However, agility and footwork go hand in hand and therefore, unless you work on the latter, the former remains stagnant. Better footwork helps you excel at different physical activities, improves your skills, and, of course, increases speed and agility.

Hiking wearing Vegan Sandals

Works the Muscles in Your Feet

Not many people are aware of the different groups of muscles in the foot, nor do they know of the crucial role they play in carrying the body. Weak muscles in the feet affect stability and mobility, two very important functions of the feet and ankles that help distribute body weight equally, and improve your overall balance. With a sedentary lifestyle, as well as wearing the wrong shoes, the muscles in the feet are not engaged nearly as much as they should be, causing them to grow weaker, and leaving more room for injury. Play works these critically important muscles in your feet and ankles, strengthening them and making sure that they function as they should.

Woman working out outdoors with barefoot shoes.

Stimulates the Brain

Keeping your mind sharp as you grow older is critically important as it reduces the onset of memory loss and other problems while improving the overall functioning of the brain. Games and activities that involve thinking, strategising, and stimulating the mind are all great for keeping the brain healthy. They also boost creativity and stimulate one’s imagination which, in turn, aids in productivity and improves problem solving skills. 

Conclusion

If there was any doubt that play is not meant for adults or rather something we are made to grow out of, think again! Just as it is for kids, play is equally important for adults and elder individuals to keep their bodies, feet, and minds functioning optimally!