Corinne Austin | Personal Training

Why We Need to Bring Back Play

Over the last couple of years I’ve been exposed to many layers of education that cover a wide scope of health, fitness and wellbeing.  From adrenal dysfunction to inflammation, ankle mobility to gut health – and almost everything in between.  But it’s been one of the more light-hearted topics that has really touched me – both personally and professionally.  And that is the concept of ‘Play’.  It appears that something that once came to us distinctively, freely, and regularly as a child actually has benefits beyond that of childhood – where many of us leave it for dust as we feel the need to ‘grow up’ and act accordingly.


Play, in fact, brings an incredible yet seemingly forgotten amount of potential to our world.  What is the true scope of play?  How can play affect our wellbeing?  And how do I believe play harnesses potential beyond our current thinking?  Well, here’s my thoughts..


Firstly, play demands unconscious motion. When we play we don’t consciously cue ourselves (like we would do in a more formal environment like a gym).  In play we just naturally move in the way we need to to achieve the desired outcome. In doing so we maximise the ways in which our body moves – and this is incredibly nourishing for our myofascial systems.  Think of it like the food we eat – the greater amount of food types we expose ourselves to, the more well-rounded our nutritional intake is.  Movement is the same – the greater the variation in our movement the more nourished our physical bodies will be.  And play can be a major contributor to this necessary physical stimulation.


Secondly, play creates smiles, happiness, giggles, and laughter. It promotes healthy competition between people or within ourselves. This promotes the release of many of our feel-good hormones and neuro-transmitters, and this in turn affects our clarity, productivity, positivity and energy for the hours that follow.  Play is therefore uplifting and mood-enhancing and this can have a ripple affect across our own lives as well as that of others.


Thirdly, play connects and bonds people, and it brings them together.  It’s got the potential to help the more aloof feel less awkward and the more extroverted feel more compassionate.  Play has the ability to connect strangers and improve the depth and strength of current relationships.   When we experience fulfilling human connection we all feel more understood, more appreciated, and more respected in our worlds.


4) Play enhances our bodies resilience to cope with multiple planes of motion, many vectors of movement, ever-changing patterns of tempo, and an abundance of force patterns and pressure types.  Due to the unpredictable nature of play, our bodies and minds must be present and in the moment to be able to respond accordingly to the actions that play demands of it.  This unpredictable nature also brings the elements of variability and variety to our physical body.  These elements keep the encyclopaedia of possible motion broad, and the more we are exposed to an ever-changing array of movements and patterns, the more resilient our body will become.  This lessens the risk of acute injury as well as repetitive strain disorders.


5) Play promotes both physical and mental challenge.  Here’s an example – at the end of last year I decided I was going to tackle the goal of mastering a backwards handspring (have never done one in my life before!).  This is both a mental and physical challenge for me – my mind has never encountered it before, and nor has my body come even close to anything like it – other than perhaps a cartwheel.  I’m having gymnastics coaching to help my body understand the different stages of the movement and the various positionings and strengths required to fulfil this goal.   Between December 2017 and now there is a notable difference in the mobility and freedom my body has acquired simply because of the new movements and positions it has been gently and regularly exposed to during my training.  Essentially, my myofascial system is accommodating the external requests that have been asked of it.


And it’s this final element of play which i think is the most powerful.  It’s relating to the’ adaptability’ property of fascia. Our physical body today is the sum of everything we’ve done in our life to date.  The same works the other way – if we change what we do in our lives we can also change the physical state of our body.  And it puts the old cliché ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ to sleep – because I have plenty of proof that this is not the case.

I think it’s indeed critical that we bring our own form of play into our lives.  To be able to keep the state of mobility, agility, balance and coordination in our bodies is paramount to the physical longevity we experience as we forge our way forward in life.  There is a true power in play – I highly recommend we all go and explore it.


  • Corinne Austin
  • Movement and Health Coach