Play and the Healthy Adult - Mature Health Center

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Originally published September 4, 2014, last updated September 4, 2014

Play and the Healthy Adult

Brian Hickey

“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?” asks Stuart Brown, author of “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.”

“They play enthusiastically throughout their lives.”

We’re never too old to play.

In fact, play is often perceived as the time we feel most alive, yet the demands of work and family responsibilities can tend to squeeze it out – or even completely remove it – from our lives. And Brown and many other experts on human behavior agree…that has to change.


Here are just a few of the benefits of play as adults, as compiled by

• Play connects us to others.

• Play fosters creativity, flexibility and learning.

• Play is an antidote to loneliness, isolation, anxiety and depression.

• Play teaches us perseverance.

• Play helps us develop and improve our social skills.

• Play teaches us how to cooperate with others.

• Mutual play can heal emotional wounds.


So what are some ways you can start playing again?

The options are as endless as your imagination, but a good start is to set aside a night to play board games (they still exist) or use your favorite gaming console as a family. Or take in a putt-putt golf course. Or get out a deck of cards.

And remember – the most important thing to play is not winning or losing; it’s being together and truly having fun. I used to be so competitive at games with my wife and daughters that I stifled their joy. I learned that it was not only more fun for them if I wasn’t concerned about winning…it was liberating for me, too.

So get playing. Do it tonight. Do it often. Enjoy!

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