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Playing games could be good for you. All work and no play makes Jack forget what it was he went to the supermarket for. And it makes him a bit unsociable, clumsy, and like a Monday morning, but all the time.
In fact, many researchers believe that the effect of play on the brain can be considerable. Simply put, play-people have bigger brains, and animals that play more have the biggest brains too. Dolphins have very big brains and spend lots of time playing for enjoyment; humans have huge brains, and continue to play their whole lives.
Playing games, playing music, word play, ball play, role play, whatever it is, it all plays a crucial part in communication, emotional development, motivation, relaxation, and maintaining physical health. We can build trust, forge relationships, avert conflict, and even get children to clean their rooms (if we--re lucky) through play.
So, laughter really can be the best medicine. And considering the wide-ranging health benefits of play it will become clear why humans and even a range of animal species, including dolphins and kittens (but also, rather more surprisingly, rats and ants) have a natural propensity towards it. For kids, it seems natural enough. We're used to hearing that rough-and-tumble improves co-ordination, and that synaptic supremacy can be achieved by training games which speed up reactions.
Rough-and-tumble play is good for developing physical co-ordination in children, according to Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play in the US. But importantly, it helps regulate emotions too - establishing the parameters for fear and conflict and engraining social and emotional cues which we must learn to act on if we are to have healthy relationships as adults.
But really -- who needs convincing of the benefits of play? It's supposed to be fun. Adults have a habit of recommending play for its deferred benefits -- play Sudoku now and you won't get dementia later; give your children Lego and they'll be the architects of the future. There is some truth to these claims, although the links may be more universal -- playing with building blocks, for example, might not make for a better apprentice bricklayer, but could improve experimentation, lateral thinking and problem-solving abilities, which can come in handy in all sorts of fields.
Perhaps more importantly, the benefits are immediate. Play is activity that is intrinsically motivating and rewarding. It can make us feel better right on the spot.
Looking for ways to improve your health and lifestyle can help set you up for the future.
If games were really only for kids to prepare for later life, you wouldn't find nonagenarians playing 'exergames' -- but the added motivation of turning indoor exercise into a videogame is proving very beneficial in the United States. 'Cybercycling', where indoor exercise bikes are linked to computer games, and even arcade-style dancing games, are providing even more health benefits for older adults than traditional exercise, according to Dr Cay Anderson-Hanley of Union College, New York.
In fact, whatever your age or life stage, looking for ways to improve your health and lifestyle can help set you up for the future. And if you have life insurance in place, it can give you that extra peace of mind financially, knowing that your debt should be covered and your loved ones protected if the worst were to happen.
You will then be able to concentrate on making the most of the time you've got. In fact, research suggests you'll probably have more of it if you do.
Issued by Sainsbury's Finance
Sainsbury's Finance is a trading name of Sainsbury's Bank plc. All information correct at time of publication, but may be subject to change. Any views or opinions expressed in this article are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any part of the Sainsbury's Group of companies.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: