My Journal Article – Just Wrestle: How We Evolved Through Rough And Tumble Play

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Happy Fall! Yes I know it’s been fall for over a month now, but in my part of the world the leaves are only now bursting into their full fall glory, the weather is getting cold enough for stews and wool socks, and Samhain is just around the corner!

Speaking of being behind, I just realized I hadn’t yet shared the good news from this spring: I got published in a journal! Rafe Kelley from Evolve Move Play and I presented almost a year ago at the Ancestral Health Symposium on the evolutionary significance of Rough and Tumble play, and our extended abstract from that symposium was submitted and published! I’m still so proud and I want to share with everyone, mostly because it’s a topic I am passionate about and want everyone to read.

So, without further ado, read on:

Rough and tumble play has been defined as physically vigorous behaviors, such as chase and play fighting, that are accompanied by positive feelings between the players. The authors argue that rough and tumble play is an important component of the ancestral health mismatch. While diet, sun exposure, sleep, and other lifestyle factors have received the lion’s share of attention and study in the ancestral mismatch hypothesis, there is a growing understanding that movement may also be a primary factor in the ancestral mismatch problem. Less attention has been paid to the role of play as a primary motivating system for movement, and an educational impulse that has implications across a huge range of psychosocial and motor development.
Rough and tumble play is arguably a heavily repressed form of play and yet at the same time a truly fundamental and powerful form of play. Rough and tumble play has its own dedicated neural networks in the brains, is universal in all mammals, and has antecedents that are found throughout the group of bilateral animals, including birds, reptiles, and crustaceans. Rough and tumble play is a key system for humans to develop physical coordination, strength, agility, spatial awareness, risk management, emotional management, social negotiation, cooperation, and moral systems that deserves further examination.

Full citation and article: 

Kelley, Rafe and Kelley, Beth (2018) “Just Wrestle: How We Evolved Through Rough And Tumble Play,” Journal of Evolution and Health: Vol. 2: Iss. 3, Article 9.