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Playtime is getting short shrift, and while children might be the ones most obviously suffering the consequences through slashed recess, obesity, and a slavish attention to resume-building activities, adults need to whoop it up, too. Studies show that a break from work can lead you to take fewer sick days and be more productive and inventive when you’re back at your desk.

The National Institute of Play takes play as serious business, calling good old-fashioned fun vital to our health and relationships: “A life or a culture devoid of or deficient in play exists as a heightened major public health risk factor. The prevalence of depression, stress related diseases, interpersonal violence, the addictions, and other health and well being problems can be linked, like a deficiency disease, to the prolonged deprivation of play.” So how can we have more fun?

Get outside. For adults who haven’t played since grade school, going outside is the easiest way to get into the playtime spirit. Simply stepping outdoors can bring out the playfulness in many of us, but if you need a more concrete activity, head to a playground. Squeeze into a swing and pump away.

Do what you love. Maybe there’s a passion you’ve given up as you’ve grown older. Well, it’s high time to dig through the attic to find the tennis racket, doll house, or roller skates. Doctor’s orders. Embrace the activities that made you lose sense of time and laugh.

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Object play. When was the last time you threw a frisbee, flew a kite, or kicked around a soccer ball? These are great ways to get in family playtime, too.

Bring out the parlor games. The next time you have a dinner party or family night, play charades. The thinking on the spot and being flexible to new problems is good for your brain.


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