Children all over the world engage in play–in fact there have been studies proving play is hard-wired into children! The benefits of play are numerous–play addresses all areas of development. It’s been said to give children preparation for and practice for real-world situations they’ll face as they mature.
Though play is often associated only with children, there’s growing evidence that adults benefit from play too!
The benefits of play for those who have more candles on their birthday cake:
1. Play is a natural stress-reliever. While you’re having fun playing endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, are released. In addition giving you an overall sense of well-being, endorphins also help block pain signals so you feel less pain. Play can be thought of as temporary pain reducer.
2 Play sparks creativity. This applies to young and old alike! Play stimulates the imagination and encourages divergent thinking. In play participants are free to try new scenarios, experiment with new materials, and wonder ‘what if’…this is how discoveries, inventions, and innovations occur, critical for workplace success.
3. Play is inherently social. As children it is through play where they learn valuable social skills such as:
* Reading communication cues–verbal and non-verbal
* Understanding what it means to be a friend
* Experiencing the give-and-take of teamwork
Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold
Those same skills are reinforced through adult interactions building personal and/or work relationships. And staying connected socially, avoiding isolation, can help prevent depression.
4. Play stimulates the brain. For young children, play is the way their brain’s were designed to learn. For adults, play can keep the brain receptive to learning and possibly prevent memory loss. Exercise is also good for the brain, in fact it can increase the size of the brain’s memory center. Exercise, in general, is good, but a study on the timing of exercise revealed a surprising result!
Playing is a timeless activity. Age is but a number. A more accurate labeling of your spirit would be the classic: Age is a state of mind. Next time you hesitate on playing, think about what George Bernard Shaw said: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing!”
So mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandma and grandpa: Get playing!
….and maybe the best thing—playing with children!
Yours in Play!