Chiropractor, Dr. David Ginsberg Explains Why Playing is Important at Any Age

by dr.g

It was Plato who said “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”  Play is important not only for children, but for adults too.  All work and no play may “make Jack a dull boy”, but it also makes Jack a worse corporate manager.  According to a number of studies, those whose lives don’t include play have an increased risk of mental health issues, diseases related to stress, addiction and violence.

English: Freestyle Frisbee: handstand catch by...

English: Freestyle Frisbee: handstand catch by Claudio Cigna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play says, “What do most Nobel Laureates, innovative entrepreneurs, artists and performers, well-adjusted children, happy couples and families, and the most successfully adapted mammals have in common?  They play enthusiastically throughout their lives.”  As we get older, however, we encounter barriers to playing.  We not only have far less time to play, given the demands of work and family, but play is often frowned upon by our peers, who feel we should not be “goofing off” during the day when we have important responsibilities to meet.  Nevertheless, play is as important to our long-term wellbeing as sleep, eating well and exercising.

Brown has researched the role of play in our lives and points out that most serial killers were deprived of play as children.  Play stimulates the areas of the brain responsible for memory and clarity.  It also encourages the development of creative strategies for dealing with problems.  Play can help make you more productive and innovative at work too.  When a problem comes up at work, studies have shown that those who take time out to play a quick game of basketball in the company parking lot or who take a break with colleagues to go out for a few laughs come back feeling refreshed and can approach the problem from a different perspective.

Play is also important to keeping relationships new and interesting.  Couples who play together develop better communication skills, foster a greater sense of trust and increase their ability to cooperate.  Play stimulates the area of the brain that processes emotions, allowing us to deal with stress in a constructive way rather than taking it out on our partner.

Children are often discouraged from roughhousing on the playground, but research has shown that this is actually an important means of developing social skills.  The practice it provides in give-and-take allows children to hone problem-solving skills that will be necessary for them to use as they get older.  Studies performed on rats showed that rats prevented from playing in a rough-and-tumble manner when they are young more often develop significant social problems when they reached adulthood and many are never able to mate.

 

Running is a form of play but do you ever take it to the next level. Rather than have a specific goal time, distance or pace for every run, do you ever just go run in the woods. Take your dog and chase him around the yard, run up and down the playground stairs with your grandkids or kids or just go and play some Frisbee. Hiking with running bursts up and down hills in a forest preserve is another great opportunity to go and play. Or better yet, just hanging around the house with some friends, run around and play tag for 15 minutes like you did when you were a kid. These play time activities are awesome for the body and the mind, and they improve our fitness as they require different types of muscle contractions than just running straight ahead on the pavement.

No matter what your age, take some time each day to play and rediscover the joy and energy that play brings to your life.

If you  are in pain or just don’t feel your best most days, call us to make an appointment or to see how we may be able to help.

 

 

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