The Health Benefits of Play Time

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STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Humans, like most other animals, have a natural play instinct, and this instinct has important benefits. It allows us to fine-tune our motor skills, develop social skills and emotional resilience and learn our limitations, and is essential for normal, healthy brain development
  • The brains of play-deprived rats are underdeveloped in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for impulse control and decision making. They also have disorganized neuronal growth and irregular neuronal cells
  • The replacement of physical play with technological gadgetry has many experts worried, as research shows playing makes people smarter, braver and kinder
  • To qualify as play, the behavior must be done for no apparent reason, be repetitive, sometimes in an exaggerated way, be spontaneous and done when relaxed and not stressed
  • Play has the ability to bridge the gap between wildly differing species. It has a language of its own, and allows us to communicate on a deep, nonverbal level with a whole range of life

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