mental healthMindsetStress

The Play-cebo Effect: Why Its Important to Play as an Adult!

man has fun in a ball pit

The weight of responsibility only seems to increase as we age. From work to kids and everything in between, we often forget to take some time out for ourselves, and we almost never take the time to play. Re-learning how to play as an adult can have incredible effects on our physical, emotional and social well-being. It can also help you to de-stress, bond with your children, and boost your mood, energy, and cognitive abilities. Are you ready for recess? 

It’s Time to Have More Fun

Somewhere along the line, we get to a point where we don’t have the time to have fun. Nay, we don’t take the time. Between the stresses of work, our daily commute, looking after kids and all the rest, squeezing in a bit of fun for ourselves can just become another chore. 

But ‘play’ as an adult doesn’t have to become tedious. It doesn’t mean you build a sandbox and buy some new trucks. Nor does it mean finding the old dollhouse in your parents’ attic and brushing the hair of a 1980’s Barbie.

As adults, the importance of play isn’t just to break up our routine. It is how we learn to be or continue to be, creative. It develops our personality and lets us enjoy the little things. It releases endorphins and improves neural plasticity. It increases our brain function, helps us to maintain dexterity, and can ultimately just help us to laugh. 

As kids, these activities are integral to our learning and cognitive development, and an incredible way to build social skills. But playing is just as important as adults for the same skills. Research has also shown that play can increase levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is essential for the growth and maintenance of brain cells. It can also improve memory and stimulate growth in the cerebral cortex.

“At work, play has been found to speed up learning, enhance productivity
and increase job satisfaction; and at home, playing together, like going to a movie or a concert, can enhance bonding and communication.”

-Lynn Barnett, professor of recreation, sports and tourism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Source.

What Does It Mean to Play as an Adult?

Sometimes, when we think about play or recreation, we go straight to sports and physical activity. Whilst these have a myriad of benefits in an of themselves- they’re not the only way to play. As an adult, play is more about a conscious decision to undertake or participate in activities you enjoy! It can be anything that can help to stimulate your mind and body in positive ways, away from electronics and gadgets, and more importantly- in ways that your job cannot.

playing as an adult is just as important as it was growing up

Play is all about having fun, and not taking life too seriously!

It’s about taking things a little less seriously. Walking through your day with a lighter step and a bigger smile. And doing it just for its own sake!

Thankfully, ‘play’ as an adult can encompass a huge array of different activities- dependant solely on your imagination:

  • Board games and adult coloring books
  • Learning/playing an instrument
  • Becoming the artist you always dreamed of being
  • Engaging in community activities
  • Going for a walk or hike
  • Playing team sports
  • Joining a book club
  • Going to see a show or performance

“What all play has in common is that it offers a sense of engagement and pleasure, takes the player out of a sense of time and place, and the experience of doing it is more important than the outcome.”

Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play in Carmel Valley, California.

The activity itself doesn’t actually matter. Whatever you consider ‘play’ is up to you. The real motivation has to be in actually making time for it. For yourself. 

Physical Activity as a Form of Play

Although play as an adult can encompass just about anything, physical activity is a measurable and verifiable way to:

  • Keep us in shape
  • Strengthen your heart and lungs
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve or maintain dexterity and coordination
  • Release ‘good’ hormones and improve our mood
  • Help us to destress and relax
  • Improve social skills and meet new people
  • Teach us how to cooperate with others, especially in team settings
  • Support, and be supported, by those around you

Of course, these all have an effect on our physical self, but research has also shown that these benefits translate into all other forms of our lives- be it our work ethic and friendships, to home life and relationships with your children. Not to mention you’re setting a great example for them too!

Moreover, the on-going physical and social benefits provided by team sports and group physical activity have been shown to increase our happiness, help us manage stress, reduce our risk of dementia, ward off depression and prolong our lives.

“Highly playful adults feel the same stressors as anyone else,
but they appear to experience and react
to them differently,
allowing stressors to roll off more easily than those who are less playful”

Lynn Barnett.

Woman having fun with a smiley faced balloon
This Is One Playcebo We’re Happy to Take!

At the end of the day, whatever you consider ‘play’ is up to you, and re-learning to play as an adult is all about having an outlet. Somewhere to channel your creative and physical energy. The research has, and will continue to prove that it is incredibly beneficial for our health, and emotional and psychological well-being. 

At TurnFit, we haven’t made it to being Vancouver’s top rated personal trainers just by focusing on the physical. All of our coaches take a real, genuine interest in you, to equip you with the skills you need to improve all facets of your life, improve your emotional and social wellbeing, and ultimately- to have more fun!

Get in touch with us to see how we can assist, or to book your consultation today! 


About Turnfit

Turnfit Personal Trainers is founded by David Turnbull or “Coach David” – an experienced and successful Personal Trainer who strives to build happier, healthier lives every day.

With a focus on holistic health, we pride ourselves on making a difference and were recently awarded the 2019 Top Choice Award for Personal Trainer in Vancouver. 

Every trainer at Turnfit is committed and relentless in our pursuit to help you reach your health and wellness goals. It’s our mission to help you to build the skills, and mindset, it takes to feel successful in all areas of your life.

For more information, please visit Turnfit.ca, join our communities on Facebook and take advantage of all of our FREE content by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

We look forward to hearing from you!

-David Turnbull

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