Researchers have long known that playtime plays a critical role in a child’s development, including improved social skills, stronger motor skills, and a lower risk of disease when they grow up. But the health benefits of play and having fun don’t end when you grow up. In fact, scientists and researchers have documented an array of ways that regular playtime and recreation can boost your physical wellness, strengthen your immunity, and support positive mental health — even for adults!
The 3 Health Benefits of Play
1. Play Reduces Stress
“Psychological stress has been linked empirically with dysregulation of facets of the human immune system,” warns a research report published in the Current Opinion in Psychology journal.
For example, stress puts a strain on your circulatory system, which impacts the circulation of immune cells and compromises your overall immunity. Stress also triggers the release of cortisol, which has been shown to lower the number of lymphocytes (i.e. white blood cells) in your body.
One of the most prominent health benefits of play and fun recreation is its ability to immediately and significantly reduce your stress levels and thus support and enhance your natural immunity. In part, this is due to the endorphins that are triggered by play. These endorphins help to balance your stress hormones and promote an overall sense of happiness and relaxation.
If you’re worried about the impact of stress on your immune system, pair play and recreation with an immunity-boosting supplement like BioPro-Plus 500. The five Thymic Proteins in BioPro-Plus 500 help to regulate the immune function to best duplicate the body’s own modulation and therefore potentially producing a long-term, sustainable immune function improvement.
2. Play Strengthens the Brain
Many playtime rituals, such as sports or doing puzzles, require your full mental focus and attention. Your brain is much like a muscle — use it or lose it! When you’re playing, many areas of your brain are firing at full power.
Studies suggest that fun recreation, regular play, and exercise all work together to boost your brain health and brain function. Positive side effects may also contribute to:
- Improved creativity
- Enhanced problem solving
- More positive mental health
- Reduced risk of cognitive disorders, aging-related memory loss, and mood disorders
3. Play Helps Us to Stay Socially Connected
“Strong social connection strengthens your immune system,” reports Stanford. “Research…shows that genes impacted by loneliness also code for immune function and inflammation.” According to the university, the health impacts of social connection on your immune system are so dramatic that boosting your sense of community and investing in strong social connections and relationships can lead to a “50% increased chance of longevity.”
Yet many adults struggle with creating new friendships or maintaining strong social connections. Playtime and recreation can help.
“Research shows [social connection] is a big reason that grown-ups play,” notes NPR. “It helps us maintain our social well-being. And it’s not just board games that do this, but soccer leagues, or playing paintball in the woods. And not just after-work recreation, but team-building exercises in corporate offices. Playing is how we connect.”
How to Incorporate the Health Benefits of Play in Your Life
“Play is something done for its own sake,” explains Dr. Stuart Brown at the National Institute of Play, in an interview with NPR. “It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”
Play as an adult can look like sports with your friends or a backyard game with your family. Or it might mean going for a walk with your dog, doing a puzzle alone, or reading books together with a partner.
Second, surround yourself with playful people. Play is as much about a philosophy of life and an approach to your day as it is about specific activities or routines. When you are in relationships with people who have a playful spirit, you’ll naturally engage in play more often.