Remember Recess and Summers as a Kid? That is When Exercise Was Fun!

December 4, 2009

Mark Sisson, over at one of my favorite sites, recently wrote a post called Grok Tag.

It is so well written because his description of recess is “spot on”. I lived for recess back in Elementary School! It was a blast. I remember basically doing all activities full throttle and having fun no matter what we were doing. This article is not a tip or anything like that.

I just wanted to back Mark’s message from his recent post.


[I will never be too old to enjoy a great rope swing! I need to find a great one this summer…and a good place for cliff diving. This stuff never gets old!]

I Have a Love-Hate Relationship With Technology!

I like the Internet, the convenience of cell phones, On Demand TV and things like that…but it make me a little sad that kids are missing out on a lot of playing outside. When I was a kid video games were around, but they weren’t such a major focus.

I typically played outside until I dropped and then would occasionally play a video game maybe 1-2 times per week. Oh yeah…and I was fine going through the day without constantly having to hear my favorite music. Am I sounding old?

Dodgeball, Waterballoon Wars, BMX Riding, etc.

I heard that kids aren’t allowed to play dodgeball anymore. I think we had 4-5 different types of dodgeball (Free Dodge Ball, Indian Doge Ball, Soak Em’, etc). If I was in charge dodgeball would be encouraged in all schools (maybe not mandatory).

Many other rowdy activities are now discouraged at school. We played a game where a football would get thrown up in the air and whoever caught it was a target to get tackled by the mob of kids. Another game was playing soccer and whoever was dribbling the ball would be a target for everyone to “slide tackle”.

Slide tackling was BIG when I was in 4th-6th grade!

Mark’s Post Reminded ME of How Much Energy We Had!

There were a lot of games that involved full-blown sprinting back then. Tag was one of the games that really got kids sprinting. I talk about “HGH Flush” on this site (being short of breath, skin gets red and hot to the touch).

Tag creates a huge HGH Flush! I love the energy that Tag creates especially when you are being chased. For some reason you can push past the pain barrier when you are trying to escape.

Tag is NOW Getting Banned in Schools!!!!

Pretty soon they are going to be cutting rope swings down! I am sad and a little angry. I am going to support Mark’s message about “letting kids be kids”. Please head on over to his site and read his outstanding article on the subject—>Grok Tag .

Mark has actually designed a workout that involves Tag, Burpees, and Pushups.

This is thinking outside of the box and is probably one of the best blog posts I have read in a long time.


----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

David - Fat Loss Tips December 4, 2009 at 8:47 pm

I got another one… British… in the snow?

Basically we would run from one end of the field to another without getting touched (if we played with the girls) or tackled (if it was just the boys). In many ways I feel sorry for our younger folks for missing out on fun stuff like this.

Thanks for sharing Rusty and forcing me down memory lane;)

Mike OD - Fitness Spotlight December 4, 2009 at 9:06 pm

I think it is best said with this quote from George Bernard Shaw:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Steven December 4, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Good post Rusty and yes, I read Mark’s post a couple of days ago, great as well. It is so absurd that tag is being banned and may possibly be banned in all schools. How I long to get a group of buds together and play a few games of manhunt throughout the week. We’d all look and feel better then we have in a probably years. Our country (if not the world) certainly is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to a lot of things in life, but none more noticeable in my opinion, then the rising obesity rate and the shear laziness of both children and adults. I agree with you, I’m all for technology as well, but I think we have too much of it directly at our fingertips all day long, literally; hence constant mobile Facebook uploads…, ah, I really hate that! Along with electronic gidgets and gadgets, we also have abundant “food-like substances” at our disposal and it’s ever so apparent in our waste lines and disease states. I think better food choices (better food education, not sponsored by the FDA, USDA and their food guide pyramid) and some bi-weekly games of tag would definitely aid in helping the country move in the right direction when it comes to health and well-being. We need better health promotion more than we need health care reform. Until we realize that and as Mark Sisson states “stop following conventional wisdom,” we’re just going to keep getting lazier and fatter and allowing such nonsense as a simple and playful game of tag be taken out of schools and away from our children.

Grok December 4, 2009 at 9:29 pm

It’s the holiday season Rusty! Don’t sweat the post frequency. Keep the quality high instead.

Kids can’t be kids at all anymore! Part of the reason they all have mental problems on top of being their being fat. You and I live in the heart of America for fat kids! I get sick to my stomach when I follow the school buss home in the afternoons.

I could hi-jack your entire post here with a rant, but I think I’ll leave it at what I have. Haha

P.S. You had video games? Come on buddy… Do Channel 8 and Atari really count? πŸ˜‰

Rob December 4, 2009 at 10:54 pm

I’m thankful my kids aren’t restricted that much yet here in India. I think one thing about being grown up is we’re constantly losing our spontaneity because of our so-called maturity. We often lose out on the child-like joy of living life by the moment. This affects everything in our lives including exercise.

Jason G December 5, 2009 at 12:34 am

Kickball was my sport of choice.

dust December 5, 2009 at 12:50 am

wow no tag in schools any more; you serious. I grew up in 1989 and played a lot of video games but man I love my semi-violent sports, if I didn’t have wrestling back in the day I would be so out of shape and if they are banning tag its just a matter of time till that shit gets banned. Rediculousnessnus!

Good post though, workout with tag sounds cool; I’ll have to check it out.

Bill December 5, 2009 at 2:21 am

Hey Rusty,

Just what everyone should be doing ~move more like a kid.
Feel, act ….heck BE more youthful that way while feeling that sweet HGH rush.

By the way, really enjoy the Grok Tag. Will try it out with some friends coming over this weekend. Enjoy some sharing some laughs and play, even remember those days when Tag was a legal game! πŸ˜‰

Keep up these great posts Rusty. Know you’re busy with that special project, so wish you the best on it, while anxiously awaiting it too. ;-D

Have a Good One man !


Mike December 5, 2009 at 4:21 am

Dude they already cut rope swings down!

Richard December 5, 2009 at 5:39 am

Rusty i hear you!

I believe they have banned British Bulldog in schools in the UK. That was the best game as a kid. It used to make some good rugby players as well.

We are getting fatter and softer in so many ways. Such a shame.

Keep up the good work,


Maximiliano December 5, 2009 at 6:59 am

Rusty……I believe constructive criticism is good for everyone.

I am a big fan of this site, I visit daily, but I believe you have lately been drifting off your “core”. I believe the key to this site is motivation. Motivation to those who are not looking for a Jay Cutler look, but rather the “Swimsuit Body” you used to post about.

I believe you get my point, but don’t take it personal, it’s just a thought that has come to my mind recently more than once.

Change is beneficial, but why change what has been working in the past?

Still a big fan though, and hope the best for all your upcoming projects!

Maximiliano, from Mexico.

marcus December 5, 2009 at 7:49 am

video games are much more fun than playing outside. I can not see why anyone would play outside when you could play a more exciting game.

Adam December 5, 2009 at 8:44 am

Great post Rusty. It’s always awesome to take a break from the fitness world and reminisce and go back to the thought of being a kid at heart. Amen to how much is changing and man is it bullsh**. When I have kids, I am dropping my gym time and increasing my yard playing time with them!

Rafi Bar-Lev at Passionate Fitness December 5, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I’ve heard a lot about what’s been going on in the U.S. and how things are being banned left and right. What is weird to me about it is that on one hand you’re hearing about “rough activities” being banned and on the other hand you see more violence than ever on the news especially among teenagers.

I think we’re really blessed here in Israel that because of the weather and the culture, it’s very “kid-friendly” so kids are definitely still playing outside a lot. We also have a lot of excellent springs perfect for jumping into the water Tarzan style. πŸ˜‰

You do see some people spending more time inside on the internet and such but so far it hasn’t taken over. I think certain places in the U.S. have a more indoor culture also because it rains so much. When I visited the northeast U.S. it rained every day in June so at that point it’s hard to blame kids for staying inside and playing video games.


Jeffrey343 December 5, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I have thought about taking my family to a large open field and playing a rousing game of tag. Or having races where I give them head starts. Or having a “playground workout” that involves lots of pullups and climbing and maybe an obstacle course race. That’s a great way to get in a fun non-workout workout on a nice day.

Helder December 5, 2009 at 3:46 pm

I think we had an happier childhood than kids today, they almost never leave home except for school, the bad habits that are pointed to adults, most kids already have it, no physical exercise it all.

I don’t know if you remember my article about beach workout, i’ve talked about this, by saying that my best shape ever was when i spent weeks at the beach, just swimming, running around, playing ball, diving, simply having fun all day long, i was working out without working out.

Kat December 5, 2009 at 7:26 pm

I clearly remember coming in from recess with my skin “ticking” from exertion (chasing boys or running from them) and feeling that sensation again for the first time when I started working out intensely.
I love to really physically play with my kids. We have cats (cool to watch them play hard then sleep hard) and we love to get down on the ground and wrestle like them (along w/ all the pretend scratching and growling) and of course there is our favorite– super-fast zombie (or vampire) tag to see who can run from being infected.
I think that if more parents participated in more physical games, both outdoor and in, we’d have more of the population in better shape, of all ages. Not to mention happier families.

alexandra demetriou December 6, 2009 at 11:35 am

I too recall running hard during recess and after school. Its sad how out of shape kids, and adults, are today.

mickieb December 6, 2009 at 6:29 pm

I’d love to play tag, but it seems other adults dont want to play! So what to do? have to play with the kids. Good thing I have one!

But, yeah, I know exactly what you mean by the games we used to play outside and all the running and fun we had. There werent as many indoor choices and parents were confident letting their kids out. Today we have to fear everything, to include dodgeball.

Soon all the kids will be sitting from sunrise to sunset. Then off to bed. Pretty bleak.

This all reminds me of that Twilight Zone episode, “Kick the Can”. Very cool concept. Just imagine…

Susan December 6, 2009 at 11:57 pm

Sweet picture man! That looks like a paradise spot..


Patrick December 7, 2009 at 12:04 pm

I think we called it smear the queer, where we threw the ball up and whoever caught it got destroyed. My favorite was riding a bike and jumping ramps, did it all day.

Matt December 7, 2009 at 6:48 pm

This is so true. Many schools have done away with recess all together which is a crying shame, and when kids get home they just turn on the TV and play video games.

*Providing the best deal on Whey Protein… Period.

Jeff Todd December 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm

Your going to love this. Remember the jungle gym schools had attached to the wall in the gym that pulled outwards? It usually had climbing ropes, ladders, rings etc. Well at my sons school they have decided that this piece of equipment was no longer acceptable and has been permanently secured to the wall – sad. Tag in the school yard has also been stopped as an activity – at recess the kids usually just stand around talking or at most go down a slide. As a culture we are doing our best to create a sloth like generation.

TruFit-The truth behind fitness December 7, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Its so true back in the day exercise was easy and fun. If only we could find a way to get that fun and excitement back. Then we wouldnt have an obesity problem :).

Thanks for the article, will be back soon to read up on more

Denzel - Genf20 December 9, 2009 at 10:07 am

The HGH flush is best achieved when you enjoy the activity rather than some monotonous gym workout. Tag is one activity that doesn’t need music to pump you up.

Rez December 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I remember in 6th grade, my favorite recess activity was frisbee. A large group of kids would stand at the bottom of a big hill behind the school, and my 6th grade teacher would throw frisbees to us. They would be very high because of the slope of the hill. It was always great being the one guy in the back who managed to catch the frisbee after it slipped through the fingers of about twenty other kids.

Studio Element Personal Training December 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

It’s absolutely ridiculous! The mind and body work together and if the body is not being stimulated properly, the mind will suffer. This is a serious issue in America. Fortunately, there are facilities like Studio Element in St. Louis that can assist children in developing an active lifestyle.

Mark December 14, 2009 at 9:13 am

Totall agree.
when I was a kid I used to build ramps to try and get the highest and longest jumps with my bike, play tag, dodgeball, dig huge holes in the backyard, climb the trees all the way to the top, Find new and interesting ways to jump into water, and the list goes on.
I find that lately I physically feel the need to do more fun stuff in exercising. I can be running outside with the polar on an checking my performance and then spot a low bush and feel the need to run there and jump over it, same with benches or playgrounds. That feeling is getting stronger and stronger so I think I understand where your post comes from.

xfactor79 December 14, 2009 at 5:13 pm

I remember very well playing football in the dead of winter for hours. What great exercise that was and your right….it was nothing but fun. Lifting weights in the gym can get boring…that is why you have to try and change things up!

Daniel December 20, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Rob said: *we’re constantly losing our spontaneity because of our so-called maturity*

maturity is just a myth, I know sponteanous kids who are way more mature than a lot of adults including their parents.

often the ambiguos concept of maturity just hides one’s mental lazyness and couch potato attitude. Overly seriousness and haughtyness is just a mask people wears because they don’t believe in themselves so they need to believe in something else to the point of narrowing their mind and having a dogmatic attitute. Not taking yourself too seriously is actually a sign of maturity. Being open minded, accepting new information and exploring new paradigms, critical thinking about things are actually all signs of maturity that most adults with their nihibited lifestyle and nonsense maturity-lie lose while kids have lot of them.

I like what Leonard Botstein (insightful president of Bard College who had great success with experimental university level schools for teens and that wold abolish high school for good) says about the hypocrisy of the adult identity:

“We define adulthood in a way that is not actually true. We say adulthood is all about circumspection and self-denial and responsibility β€” all high-minded moral talk. It’s not the way adults actually behave”

True, it’s not the way it is, but’s it a common myth that justifies all the faking, lying, pretending, acting of adulthood.

A great socioligist Henry Lafebvre even considers adulthood a myth, a stupid social construction. That’s what he said:

“adulthood is a myth, a myth presented by adults to their juniors. Adulthood means that a social group, well organized and also possessing a number of solid structures, takes control of the life of the person who is said to have reached adulthood and subordinates and integrates him or her firmly into itself. From the moment these “adults” are firmly integrated in one of these social groups we see them turning into very important people people, decorated, bedribboned and just childish. So adulthood is a myth because it infantilizes people in the very process of “integrating” them with terrible force into narrow social structures. I believe it’s one of our society’s most oppressive myths, and that’s why I’m on the side of everyone, young or not so-young, who does not believe in adulthood”

Most adults are just insicure, narrow minded and angry at the world because they’re angry at themselves. I can’t believe how many adults I’ve known talk down to kids as if their life was so damn of full of responsibilities and be-strong moments, while the kids they talk down too are often a lot stronger and less wimpy in dealing with situations and problems.

Most adults are usually sedentary, junk eaters, lazy thinkers and as they lose all these great qualities that defined them as “humans” when they were kids, they develop an irritating haughtiness and arrogance, taking everything damn seriously and feeling superior to younger people, as if in need of a surrogate (i.e. fake-power) to the real-power they’re losing.

Let’s face it: most adults are inhibited immature control freeks and constantly on a power trip. Maybe if they had stronger bodies leading to stronger mind leading to less whining and more acting; they wouldn’t need fake control and power so much.

Mp3 Rocket January 22, 2010 at 6:42 am

Hey Rusty, its fun. But now it s hard to find some place like that new our house.

Russ March 29, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I don’t plan to ever stop playing and having fun! Heck, I go on 2-3 week long business trips, and at a minimum I’m able to find a few spots to play basketball. Exercise is not something I’m willing to compromise.

Just like in my youth, a willingness to engage in sports, has allowed me to meet a lot of wonderful people in different cities and countries. Getting out there and having fun promotes physical health and fosters social relationships. I feel bad for those youth today who are less inclined to play and more inclined to sit at home on their computer!


Igracke November 17, 2011 at 4:26 am

I am working with kids, playing shows for them, entertaining…it makes me feel young again, we are doing a lot of exercises… I love this job! Igracke

Joe Carbup July 5, 2012 at 5:21 am

I love your site and your posts Rusty, but I have to say that I’m tired of all of these value judgments about “kids today”. No, there were no video games when I was a kid, at least not until Pong came along when I was in my teens. Yes, I spent the vast majority of my childhood outside playing. As I’ve seen many people say on Facebook and elsewhere, my mother would tell me to get out of the house and don’t come home until dinner. The difference is that I can see that her actions were not some kind of noble act of wisdom; if we stayed in the house, we’d be getting on her nerves with our moaning about how there was nothing to do and we were right: we had nothing to do indoors.

So outdoors I went to “play tag”, hide and seek, kill-the-guy-with-the-ball, build forts in the woods, and have brook-jumping competitions, climb trees, etc, etc. A youth without closer supervision also led me to smoking pot for the first time when I was 11 in 1971. It led me to having fun starting forest fires, shoplifting, and regularly doing drugs, drinking alcohol, and smoking by the time I was 14. Our fort-building careers culminated in a fort built with $5,000 of stolen wood. The lack of “control freaks” at school allowed us to smoke cigarettes and pot on school grounds. They didn’t give a damn that I habitually skipped classes and entire days of school. Politically-correct play in gym is irritating without question, but gym was just another part of the school day for me; something to get through until I could get home and do what I REALLY wanted to do. I didn’t get my license until I was almost 18. I couldn’t be bothered because I drove anyway. I learned to drive when I was 15, stoned and slobbering drunk, because my brother was even more drunk and couldn’t drive.

Meanwhile, have today’s condescending adults looked at the kids who are not overweight? I see and hear so many blind adults insinuating that all of today’s kids live in plastic wrap. Are you kidding me? Have any of these people seen the X Games for crying out loud? Seen the way today’s kids ski and snowboard, bike and skateboard? Good grief man, along with the coach potato kids — and I’m here to tell you that we had kids like that when I was young — there are plenty of kids out there that put our attempts at risk-taking to shame. I’ll tell you what the blind proclamations of these people tells me: that THEY are the ones who are not getting out enough.

This is not to say that we don’t have problems with poor diets and lessening degrees of physical activity, but there’s a flip side to that coin that goes along with it and for once I’d like to see people start giving credit to “today’s kids”. My own kids most definitely play in the house much more than I did, but they are also far less likely to have their lives mired in mediocrity as a result of their drug-addled youth.

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