Researchers at the University of Ulster (Northern Ireland) quizzed 505 young adults on their play experiences as children. Additionally, they collected information about their weight, health, and health habits. The researchers identified four types of play with this group: active play, play that involved technology, playing alone, and creative play, and all were linked to a variety of of adult health profiles.
Participants who had the most creative play time as kids appeared to have a healthy diet and important heart-smart habits such as a regular exercise regimen. The young adults who had the most active play time were in the best health and engaged in the most exercise as adults. However, those who reported having the most restrictions on their play and having the least amount of play time were the most likely to have bad health habits and to be overweight.
It seems telling a child to “go play,” can not only get him out from under foot, but may also be the best thing for his long term health.