We sometimes think about play as a guilty pleasure or a waste of time. However, taking time to play is not only fun but can also be good for our overall health.
1. Play can prevent coronary heart disease. Play for adults often takes place in the form of sports and physical exercise. In a review of 11 studies relating physical activity to coronary heart disease, physical activity was inversely related to coronary heart disease in eight of them._ 2. Play can prevent cancer._ Research shows that physically active men and women have about a 30- to 40-percent reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer compared to inactive people. There is also evidence that physically active women have about a 20 to 30 percent reduced risk of breast cancer compared to inactive women._ 3. Play can reduce depression._ Leisure-time exercise reduces depression risk across a lifespan. For example, research suggests an inverse relationship between leisure activity and depression in the elderly. Those who engaged in leisure activity, whether it was physical exercise or card games, were less depressed than those who did not._ 4. Play can reduce dementia._ According to the New England Journal of Medicine, leisure activities such as reading, playing board games, playing musical instruments and dancing were associated with a reduced risk of dementia.Each of us defines play differently. It comes down to spending time doing what we want to do, versus what we have to do. Play can happen with a group of teammates playing softball or in the solitude of knitting. Whatever the definition, let’s make time to play this spring!
Dr. Tracy Davenport is a health writer, advocate and entrepreneur who has been helping individuals live their best life. She is co-author of Making Life Better for a Baby with Acid Reflux. Follow Tracy’s love of smoothies on Twitter.