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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Playtime for Adults!

I just read the February/March 2009 issue of "Scientific American Mind" magazine. The cover story is titled "The Serious Need for Play," and I think there are lessons there that everyone could benefit from.

The premise of the article is how, based on studies, children who engage in play - unstructured, "use your imagination," free play - have more creativity, better social skills, better problem solving ability, greater problem solving ability, and less stress than those who did not. Studies showed that students who attended pre-schools with free play ended up doing better than those who went to schools with a greater emphasis on teaching.

Though the article is geared towards the developing child's mind, I think we as adults can take a lot from it (the article does include a sidebar on the importance of play for adults).

When was the last time you played? When was the last time you really engaged your imagination and creativity? Maybe it's time you did...

For children, the article emphasizes "free" play, where kids can do whatever they want, as opposed to structured play, such as participating in an organized sport. While the organized sport offers exercise and fun, the other developmental benefits aren't there.

As an adult, I think you can follow this advice. While aerobics classes and recreational sports are fun, social, and great for health, I'd like to see people go one step further: just PLAY, for fun. Be silly, be goofy, use your imagination. Be a kid again. It may be the best "adult" thing you ever do.

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