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.