Playtime: It’s Not Just for Kids, Say Experts

Playtime(c) Paul Bradbury / iStock via Getty Images Plus

While most of us associate playtime with childhood, adults are increasingly acknowledging the importance of play and leisure time for themselves.

A new survey commissioned by The Genius of Play and conducted by OnePoll finds that 89% of adults have learned to appreciate the importance of play and leisure time over the past year. What’s more, 84% say taking time to play helps them be more productive at work.

“You’re never too young or too old to play,” says Anna Yudina, senior director of marketing initiatives at The Toy Association, which spearheads The Genius of Play. “In fact, research links play with a number of wellness benefits in adults, such as reducing stress, boosting life satisfaction, and empowering people to be creative, flexible thinkers.”

To incorporate play into your life, consider these tips from The Genius of Play:

• Take on a Hobby: Seventy percent of adults picked up a new hobby or leisure activity over the past year — and with good reason. Hobbies can be a source of positive emotions, get you outdoors, encourage physical activity and social interactions, and spark creativity. From roller skating to dancing to crafting to playing an instrument, consider taking on a new, playful hobby or revisiting one you enjoyed during childhood.

• Plan a Game Night: While play often occurs spur-of-the-moment, life is hectic and schedules are jam-packed. Consider scheduling time for fun to ensure it happens. For example, make one evening each week a totally screen-free, stress-free experience. Order pizza (or your household’s cuisine of choice) and break out games and puzzles. You might even consider planning themed trivia nights delving into your favorite subjects.

• Hop in the Car: Whether you choose a destination that allows you to simply relax, or you take on a more active adventure, a trip can broaden your horizons and rejuvenate you when you’re feeling down or just trapped in the daily routine. Consider taking a just-for-fun trip on your own, with a friend or partner, or pack up the car and bring the kids.

• Bring out Your Inner Child: Parents, grandparents and other adults with a kid in their life can spend more time playing with the little ones. Not only is play the perfect way to bond, research highlights a number of associated health benefits. Those who play with children burn 20% more calories per week, and researchers link playfulness to creativity, spontaneity and positive attitudes. Intergenerational play can help adults maintain cognitive skills as they age and even extend their life. A study published in the journal “Evolution and Human Behavior” found that grandparents who help out with grandchildren live longer.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, visit thegeniusofplay.org for tons of fun, free games and downloadable activities.

“While our primary mission is educating parents and caregivers about play’s vital role in child development, adults need time to play too,” says Yudina. “We hope to motivate people of all ages to play more — whether it’s by embracing personal hobbies or by spending more time playing with their kids.”

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