The Importance of Play for Adults

Is it possible that playing is as important to healthy aging as exercise is for our physical health? 

As we age and maintain our busy lives, jobs, and responsibilities we often don’t make time for play.  Maybe we even dismiss it as mere foolishness, a waste of time.   However, science shows otherwise.

Dr. Stuart Brown heads up a non-profit that studies the impact of playing, the National Institute for Play.  He says that play helps us connect and stay sharp, maintaining memory and thinking skills.  This can be especially important for older adults and even those with dementia.  His studies show that play deprivation has some serious consequences – basically, it makes life much more laborious and dull.

Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. According to Dr. Brown, fun is something you do purely for the experience itself without a set purpose.

The Institute for Play notes seven different kinds of play:

  • Attunement
  • Body Play & Movement
  • Object Play
  • Social Play
  • Imaginative Play
  • Storytelling Play
  • Transformative and Creative Play

The more of each kind of play we continue to participate in as we age, the happier and smarter we will grow.

You can learn more about these ways of playing on their website.

Website: National Institute for Play

You can check out more about what Dr. Brown has to say about play for adults in this Ted Talk by clicking on the link below.

Dr. Stuart Brown – Ted Talk

As George Bernard Shaw said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

infographic of ways to play, play for adults