Years ago I realized the power of play while coloring with my daughters at a 4-H meeting. I was a forty-something mom sitting on the floor working on the group’s float project for an upcoming parade.
My job was to outline circles on craft paper with various colored markers to simulate a crowd at a rodeo. That simple activity provided a guilt-free respite from my day-to-day routine. I had unleashed the power of play. It was fun!
If laughter is the best medicine. And exercise is the cheapest cure. Then play is pleasing and restores our sense of well-being. Concentration and focus are better when we set aside time for play.
Play is good for us and may even increase our longevity. It’s an essential component of our health and happiness. So why do so many older adults avoid it?
Why do older adults stop playing?
Do you think you’re too old to play? Many older adults think so. Perhaps it’s their innate personality or a bad attitude. Aside from that, sometimes aging bodies don’t easily lend themselves to physical types of play like running or jumping.
With that said, there’s another reason older adults say they don’t want to play. They’re afraid they’ll look silly. I can appreciate that. It goes against the self-image of a respectable wise adult.
It may be acceptable to release one’s inner child with grandkids. But making merry when children aren’t around is embarrassing.
Playing a game of hopscotch all by yourself because it’s fun, might look foolish.
But making excuses not to play because we’re self-conscious, deprives us of the restorative power of play.
Besides the fear of looking silly, many older adults worry a lot. They spend their time worrying about money, getting older, losing independence, and dying.
Sure, the future can look scary, but much of it is out of our control. Take a break from worry.
Unleash the power of play to reap the many health benefits it provides.
Reap the Health Benefits of Play
Play is beneficial for kids of all ages. Whether you’re 8 or 80, playing makes you feel great! It stimulates the imagination and improves concentration.
Playing brings you into the present moment. When focusing on the present, you can’t worry about the past or the future. You’re paying attention to the activity at hand.
Feeling like a kid again is wonderful for relieving stress and boosting energy.
- Stimulates the imagination and spurs creative thought
- Reduces stress and worry
- Induces a feeling of lightheartedness
- Promotes positive emotional health
- Increases energy levels
5 Examples of Play for Older Adults
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Let out your playful side. The point is to have fun without a specific end result. For example, go for a swim or ride your bike for fun – not because you’re trying to lose weight.
And don’t let mobility issues stop you from playing. Look for fun activities that are within your reach of physical ability.
No. 1 – Creative Coloring
Coloring improves focus and concentration – an important component of brain health. You’ll find adult coloring books for sale everywhere these days. Why not pick one up the next time you’re at Walmart or the grocery store? Or click this Amazon link to take a look at this best-selling coloring book for adults.
No. 2 – Dancing while cooking
It’s drilled into our brains time and time again – the importance of physical activity for remaining independent and healthy. If you don’t have a regular exercise routine, you’re asking to lose strength and flexibility faster than if you do. If you can’t bring yourself to work out, try dancing. Get your Big Chill dancing in the kitchen scene going. You’ll have so much fun while doing your body good.
No. 3 – Bubble Fun for Older Adults
Blowing bubbles is not only fun, it has stress-relieving benefits as well. When you inhale and exhale to blow a bubble, it’s like a deep breathing exercise. The benefit of deep breathing is that it relieves stress, slows heart rate, and helps calm a worried mind. Start blowing bubbles today. Perhaps this Bubble Wand Assortment Pack will provide the stress-free play you need.
No. 4 – Skipping
When was the last time you skipped? If you’re physically able, do some skipping now and then. Movement is key to staying fit as we get older. Skipping is an excellent play-time endeavor to get in some arm and leg movement while having fun doing it.
No. 5 – Hula Hoop Play for Older Adults
Admittedly, playing with a hula hoop requires some skill. And if you’re like me and you haven’t hula hooped in a while, it can be challenging. But that’s all part of the benefit. It’s a time-honored amusement that will reward you with satisfaction and increased energy levels.
Schedule time for play
It’s a good idea to add some play into our lives. But life is hectic with meetings, coffee with friends, birthday parties, grocery shopping, paying bills…the list is endless.
That’s why we need to schedule play. Adding it to our calendars as a must-do event reminds us to let go and have some fun. Frolic. Relax. Rejuvenate.
Our minds and body will be grateful that we took the time to unleash the power of play.
For various reasons, older adults are often reluctant to play. However, play is an essential component of health and happiness. It may even increase our longevity. As with anything of value, it’s a good idea to schedule a playful activity into our busy lives.
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