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Guest Blog Post: The Benefits of Play

Leisure time can be just as rewarding for adults as for children. In fact, when adults choose to engage in unstructured social activities in a creative way, play stimulates the mind to reap many health benefits.

Adults who set aside typical “zone out” screen time and trade it for joyful play will find that it has many mental and physical health benefits. Best of all, letting loose and choosing to play alone, with a pet, or other people not only recalls the “joyful abandon” of childhood, it engages the mind, body and spirit of each participant.

Concrete Rewards for Engaging in Play:

Relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Improve brain function. Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.

Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. Young children often learn best when they are playing—a principle that applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and solve problems.

Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to include a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.

Keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Play can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you function at your best.

---extract from The Benefits of Play for Adults., Robinson, L. et. al. (2022, Feb

Vi at Highlands Ranch offers many opportunities to let loose, interact with others, and have fun! Be sure to check the monthly activities calendar for specific dates and times.

  • Game Night - Each fourth Tuesday of the month is Game Night. Play a casual game of Bunco on Tuesday, March 22nd at 7:00 pm in the Centennial Room, or join us in April for Trivia Night.

  • Arrange nights out – Try a new dish at Out to Lunch – Seasons 52, shop Park Meadows Mall, attend a Met Live Opera, or see a play at Littleton Town Hall Arts Center.

  • Schedule time in a park – Starting in May, we have scheduled outings to local parks and hikes. Being in nature is a great way to relax and play with others, whether it’s walking, people watching, or painting.

  • Play with a pet. Puppies, especially, make very willing playmates. If you don’t have your own, visit with Bailey, a love-able, friendly Lab the last Monday of each month in the Living Room at 1:30 pm.

  • Surround yourself with playful people. They’ll help loosen you up and are more likely to support your efforts to play and have fun. Play ping pong, pool, or poker. Listen to live music and enjoy a refreshing drink at Cocktail Hour. Join a book club or knitting group.

  • Joke with strangers while waiting for dinner reservations. It’ll make the time pass quicker and you may even spark up new friendships.

No matter what you choose to engage in, remember that when you experience joy through play, you are sharing and multiplying its benefits with others.

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