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Alaska: The Natural Playground

Play is an integral part of life. From the time we are born to the time we grow old, there is a desire to explore and develop an understanding of the world around us. As a state, Alaska offers a unique opportunity to play on a regular basis, even into the later years.

As a physical therapist, I encourage nearly all my patients to get outside and play, provided pain and symptoms are not present. This “play” can take many forms, whether it’s hiking a mountain, biking, walking or running to work, cross country skiing to dinner, or fishing for tomorrow’s lunch. Play encourages us get active, move around, and use the muscles given to us. As a child, play may take the form of manipulating small objects with our hands or crawling from one room to another. Play may take different forms as we grow old, but the fundamentals are still present: activating muscles, thinking, perceiving, sensing and moving around in our environment. The beauty of Alaska is that you don’t have to go very far to get your play fix.

When we play, our bodies are constantly changing positions. This movement is excellent because it engages muscles, stimulates blood flow, encourages decision making skills and promotes greater energy. Think of movement for your body like you would oil for your car: just like a car needs oil to run, so your body needs movement. In other words, “motion is lotion.” In order to ensure the longevity of your body, movement is essential. Combine movement with a healthy diet and you’re golden.

When visitors come to Alaska, most want to get out and explore; it’s no wonder why tourism is such a large industry up here. In a person’s exploration, their muscles are moving joints, joints are triggering receptors, receptors are sending impulses to the brain, the brain is coordinating movement and movement is keeping their body “in shape.” While exercise at the gym or training facility is excellent (and we encourage it), movement in the Natural Playground can be just as beneficial, if not more so.

Alaska offers an excellent opportunity for all of us to get out, play, use our muscles, solve problems and maintain our health. So, get out and play in the Natural’s good for you!

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