Monday 13 January 2014

Live, love and play. The secret to longevity - a guest post

Happy new year!

What do a monkey, child and the most creative adults in the world all have in common?

You guessed it - they all PLAY!

Flying a kite on Christmas Day with my 4yr old niece
Latest research has confirmed that play is as important as sleep to our wellbeing, happiness and performance. In fact we are hard-wired for play. It is essential for survival.

Before we start asking the hard questions let take a quick look at what play is.

Play is any voluntary activity that is FUN and really has NO purpose or goal-orientated outcome. It allows the participant to get into a state of flow where very little conscious thought is occurring. It becomes an out-of-self experience….hey, a little bit of time when our brain isn’t thinking a hundred things can’t be all bad, right?

Surprisingly there are very few rules and regulations on what constitutes play. How hard can it be? Scientists actually consider flirting to be a form play in many cases!

Image by Artie Carmie via pinterest
As a side note, with our super-structured schools and competitive sport systems, are we coaching the creative ability out of our kids? Perhaps. But I digress.

Yes, yes I can hear you… 

Peace, love and happiness are great for the kids but what’s in it for me?!

Let’s start strong.

Play could be the best anti-aging treatment for your brain. Boom! FMRI (functional MRI) scanning shows that nothing lights up the brain more than three-dimensional play.
The random nature of play forces the brain to form new neural pathways. Do it for 15-20mins and then your brain releases a neurotransmitter called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that acts like a fertilizer for the brain. Pretty cool, really. At any age, we have the ability to grow and rewire our brain. Oh, and did I mention it’s FUN.

So we know that play is great for keeping our brain in tip top shape. 
What about the body?

I think we would all agree movement is vital for health and happiness. During play, movement is performed subconsciously. This helps develop rhythm and timing due to our conscious thoughts not getting in the way. Therefore building resilience from injury and efficiency in performance. As they say "motion is lotion for the body", and did I mention it’s FUN?!

So you’re starting to get the picture - play is good for body and brain!

Let’s not forget plays teaches us how to socialize, connect, handle stress, develop empathy and enhances creativity. In fact, studies have shown in adults that as play decreases, social, emotional and cognitive intelligence decrease also.

Now it’s time to ask yourself the hard question:

Do you prioritize time for play?

If the answer is no, hopefully I have convinced you to ask yourself a few questions.

If you’re struggling for ideas, watch and learn from the masters of play - kids. 

Hide (and seek)...
...and laugh without shame. 

Remember one person’s work might be another’s play. As Einstein once said: 

Image source
 Thanks for hanging in! I’m off to play balloon with my four year old niece!

Cheers, Azza (AKA Kate's special friend/husband)


  1. "ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!" and you can take that to the bank! Or the playground, whichever you see first as you're skipping down the street or dance-walking with a new buddy. I would like to feature this blog-post on my Longevity website. May I, Kate? Thank you! I must say this is the first time I'm asking someone to post their article... not that there aren't other great articles and writers, but this one really resonates with the content I promote.

  2. Just realized your husband wrote it! That is very cool. =^) I think in this day, "PLAY" being "provided" by a husband is as important as food being provided -- as important as hunting down an animal to feed the family. Because "provision" is a broad concept. And with all these modern stressors, play is a "survival" provision -- perfect for our healthy, happy longevity!!