“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” —George Bernard Shaw
Researchers who study the benefits of play point out that it has more to do with your attitude than what you're actually doing: Things like living in the moment, finding satisfaction, even amusement, in life’s everyday details and challenges, or solving problems such as riddles and crossword puzzles - these are all forms of play.
While some people are naturally inclined toward playfulness, this skill can also be practiced and learned.
Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. Studies have shown that playful people find life's challenges to be more manageable—taking a playful approach may equip people to better cope with the inevitable stress of life.
Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
Play can enhance your inner strength by making you emotionally resilient and happier. Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best. It improves brain elasticity and helps to keep adults’ minds sharp as they age.
There are many ways to add play into your current fitness plan and many reasons why you should. Challenging your body in new ways, active play provides opportunities for fitness, a competitive outlet, stress relief, social connections, and a fuller, more enjoyable and productive life.
Play-based approaches to managing work teams and projects have proven to dramatically increase the rate of innovation in workgroups. Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.
Evidence suggests that play optimizes learning. Learning happens best in a stimulating, inviting, and nurturing environment. As demonstrated by watching the young of other species play, they are having fun but also perfecting skills they will need as adults. Play performs a vital role in developing physical, social, and intellectual development.
Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.