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The Importance of Continuous Play

Play plā : v. to wield lightly and freely. To keep in motion.

It’s not just for fun. Play allows us to be creative and helps nurture critical thinking, personality development, and adaptive pathways for us in childhood.
The benefits of play are far-reaching, but we often give up play as adults for more serious pursuits, such as our careers, our relationships, and our families—all of which are valid pursuits.

I just returned from a long weekend family vacation on Venice Beach in California. On my last morning there, at the end of my run, I was doing some strides (100 meter sprints that mimic a fast turnover) as I am preparing to run the NYC marathon next week.
I value my hobby for running for many reasons, and one is that it makes me feel youthful and playful. I was sprinting back and forth playing games in my head, like pretending I was Alison Felix racing for the gold medal, just as I nodded at the awareness of why I love the vibe of Venice beach so much.

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Two women probably around my age, 43, dressed in workout clothes were frolicking, laughing and playing with practicing gymnastic moves on the sand.
Along the beach for miles from Venice to Santa Monica, are volleyball nets and play area’s of rings and ropes and pull up bars. I often see groups of friends playing together, challenging one another and working out together in these stations on the sand. How fun is that?
In the water too, I always see  all sorts of playing. Especially in the early morning, when the beach is full of surfers out playing, getting their surf on before their day starts. No matter how old, what their job entails, they’re committed to getting their early surf in.DSC_0257
What if we could tap into play to enhance our life experiences, our professions, our relationships, and our family lives as adults as well as children? Play for adults is critical in our stressful go-go-go lives. Play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain functionality, and stimulate creativity. And it can even help keep us feeling young and energetic. Studies show that play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex.
Play has also been shown to trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells. One of the things that may often stop us from playing is that we, as adults, get very set on who we are and the types of activities that we do and do not like, and get stuck in a routine that doesn’t allow for change. There are so many ways to add PLAY into different areas of our lives.

Lets look at a few creative ideas that can be fun for you to incorporate into play:

Add creativity expression: – Coloring, painting, collage, and drawing
– Creating and experimenting with new recipes while cooking,  and  adding color to your food
– Dressing up. Wearing something you typically wouldn’t. Being playful with your wardrobe

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– Playing imaginative games while exercising. Pretending, being creative and using visualization to take the boredom out of your typical workout.
– Being adventurous. Taking a new path on your walk run or hike go as far as to get lost.
– Taking up a sport you always wanted to do, but never made the time for

Screen Shot 2016-10-27 at 9.31.39 AM– Taking up an instrument
-Playing board games with the family on the weekend
– Going to a comedy club
– Going to an amusement park
– Rather than planning a typical dinner with friends, organizing a fun activity instead like rock climbing or bowling.
– Playing with yoga. Challenging yourself with a pose you typically skip and keep practicing with it

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