As the founder of the National Institute for Play , Dr. Stuart Brown's work is focused on the effect and importance of play in our lives. His research indicates that play is as basic a natural phenomenon as sleep, and, like sleep, many of us aren't getting enough of it. A life devoid of play faces major health risks, such as depression , a decreased immune system, and stress-related  diseases. On a larger scale, a culture devoid of play may even experience higher rates of interpersonal violence and crime. By incorporating more joyful, non-repetitive activities in our lives, Dr. Brown argues, we are able to replace these health and societal risks with a greater sense of well-being for ourselves and our communities.
There a strong connection between the practice of play and the emotional and cognitive development of the brain. So not only will engaging in play-which could include physical activity  or sports, a creative  practice such as painting, or simply giggling with your child-improve your physical and emotional  wellbeing , it can reinforce patterns in your brain and optimize the learning process.