A play prescription for adults

As children, we all desired play time, structured, unstructured, indoors, outdoors, anywhere anytime. As we grow up, we abandon play.

As children, we all desired play time, structured, unstructured, indoors, outdoors, anywhere anytime.  As we grow up, we abandon play for the most part. It’s time to work hard, run a household, participate in stimulating conversations and become mature.

Psychcentral explains, “Our society tends to dismiss play for adults. Play is perceived as unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure… But play is just as pivotal for adults as it is for kids.”

Health Benefits of Play

o Stimulates the mind, imagination, creativity.

o Helps with adaptability and problem solving.

o Keeps you feeling young, increases your vitality and energy.

o Improves relationships and connection to others.

o Develops and improves social skills like communication, cooperation and teamwork.

o Play can help heal emotional wounds.

Stuart Brown, M.D., founder of the National Institute for Play has spent decades studying the power of play.

In his studies, he found that, “Lack of play was just as important as other factors in predicting criminal behaviour among murderers in Texas prisons.”

Brown calls play a “state of being,” “purposeless, fun and pleasurable.”

The focus of play is on the actual experience, and not about accomplishing an end goal.

In Brown’s book entitled, Play, he writes, “We don’t need play all the time to be fulfilled. The truth is that in most cases, play is a catalyst.  The beneficial effect of getting just a little true play can spread through our lives, actually making us more productive and happier in everything we do.”

Play tips:

o Play can be anything you enjoy.  For one person it can be gardening and for another it can be rock climbing, walking the dog, playing chess or art.

o Hang out with playful people, both friends and loved ones.

o Enjoy little ones.  Playing with young children helps us to experience the magic of play.

Think back to activities you enjoyed as a child that may point you in the right direction.  Did you love to dance, paint, horseback ride or swim?

From the Aquatic and Fitness Centre, Arena, Curling Club, Badminton Club, Lakeshore Racquets Club, Seniors Centre to name a few… there are many programs in Summerland waiting for your playful participation.

Speaking with Trish Macdonald, who recently started the Nifty Fifty fitness program, “I was impressed with the number of ladies that were attending. It’s a testament to instructor Lynn Ellis. She makes us all feel welcome, it’s enjoyable and we laugh.  She’s always smiling, telling jokes, making sure we are doing things correctly and keeps us on our toes. It’s a social group as well as an exercise class.”

Consider play to be a great investment in well-being.

For youngsters, the Puddle Jumpers program, for three- to five-year-olds, is an ideal playful learning environment for structured and unstructured play. Liz Minty has been running it for more than 20 years and it’s a positive community program for children.

The Spring Recreation Guide came out March 1.  www.summerland.ca. Check out programs that interest you.

Joanne Malar is the program coordinator for Summerland Recreation, three-time Olympic swimmer, 2012 Olympic Commentator, kinesiologist and holistic nutritionist.