The things we lose when our environment ceases to support random play

The things we lose when our environment ceases to support random play

By a WHO estimate, 85 per cent of girls and 78 per cent of boys get less than the 1 hour of recommended activity level a day.

In our drive to track steps, lift weights, do yoga and play sport, there is one very category of movement that is lost: randomly interacting with our environment to move and just exist.

Calling it a category is an oxymoron. By definition random movement is random. It occurs simply because you are looking at ways to interact with your environment. And the environment facilitates movement not by design but by just being there. Like a monkey swings across branches of trees as part of the monkeys existence. Monkeys don’t swing from tree to tree to get better at it. There is no banana watch for swing tracking.

How much do our current environments, for kids or adults, support random movement. Why are we shocked when kids grow up not really looking forward to moving all the time. With every passing year, every physical object of play that surrounds them is removed till they reach college. And play becomes more structured and organised with every passing year of our existence.

Even gyms make movement self evident for good reason. Presented with a pair of rings off a ceiling or an akward bag for lifting and throwing, we choose to do neither. Movement needs to be sanitised, qualified, studied, quantified and taught to be performed. I am guilty of participating in this sanitisation. As are marathons, badminton courts, cities shorn of hiking paths or play areas.


This is not a call for ridding your day of an hour of structured activity. This is a call to think beyond steps for your daily dose of movement (NEAT). Go to your local park. Leave your phone, take your kid with you. Even if you can do pull ups, just hang for a while. Pace around, jump around, move a big rock. And for the love of god, don’t look at how many steps you managed at the end of the random activity you just did.