Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Importance of Play

This morning I heard just a little bit of an interview on NPR of Stuart Brown, a medical doctor, psychiatrist and researcher who specializes in the importance of play for people of all ages.  His main findings are that "play" isn't just goofing around (above is his TED talk).  It's an important part of developing our cognitive and physical abilities so that we're able to take actions that are important to our survival. 

However, play isn't just for kids.  His research has found that adults who don't play are more likely to have rigid thinking - which makes them less able to react to changing environments.  They are also more likely to be depressed and have a pessimistic view of life.  He even found that lack of play in a person's life may be a major indicator of future violent actions.

I love studies like this - mostly because I'm 37 years old and I still like to act pretty childish from time to time.  Yes, I know that I write a blog about running and triathlons - you would think that I have no doubt that these activities are good for me.  Actually though - one of the main reasons that I started this blog was to determine why I still felt that running and competition were so important to me even though I was supposed to be "all grown up."

I sometimes worry - is it all vanity?  Am I trying to fill some hole of self-doubt by continuing to compete way into adulthood?  Shouldn't I have moved on to something else by now to fill my spare time?

So, thank you Dr. Brown - for giving me a well thought out and researched model that makes me feel better about keeping doing what I like to do.


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