The Dolce Vita Lifestyle

Raeleen D'Agostino Mautner, Ph.D.

Did you know that research has shown an association between playfulness and resilience in older women? Furthermore, the more often we take time to just have fun, the stronger and stronger our resiliency skills become.

     Researchers investigated this phenomenon in 167 women over 50 who participated in the Red Hat Society (RHS), which is a leisure group for older women. They gave them a survey that measured playfulness through leisure activities, such as the activities that RHS members often participated in. They controlled for (i.e. cancelled out) the effects of age, education, marital status, years of RHS membership, and physical and mental health statuses. Results showed that playfulness contributed to the growth of resilience in older women over time.

     Sometimes we seem to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. The horrors we witness through the nightly news; the personal traumas that we or the people we care about are facing, the losses that grow in number alongside our years. These situations are real, and in many cases frightening—BUT—we need to break away every once in a while to restore balance and calm in our life. Skip a night of news. Put the technique of “Stop Thought” into action and replace negative thoughts with happy ones, whenever you catch yourself feeling stressed. Most of all—we need to take more play-breaks. Here are some suggestions:

  • Call for a get-together with old friends or new. Instead of sitting at a table eating and drinking for hours (although that is fun too) go play a game of mini-golf, pickle ball or tennis, take a flamenco class together, go bowling or play volleyball, basketball, badminton—just move and have a ton of laughs!
  • Play with your dog. Teach it to fetch a ball, hide and seek the treat—or YOU. Believe me, Fido will be up to the task any time of day or night.
  • Go out dancing. Nowadays there are no hard and fast rules that you must only dance when you have a partner. Many a time, I have just gotten lost amongst a dance floor crowd and danced the night way solo—and had a blast doing so.
  • Have a game night with friends or family. I have never played “Left Right Center” but hear that many a circle of friends are enjoying that dice game.  I personally favor Monopoly and will stop at nothing to obtain Broadway and Park Place!
  • Get silly with your grandkids. Have sleepovers, camp outs, put on a musical together or teach them how to play bocce in your backyard.

Playing seems to strengthen our emotional muscles for getting through the tougher times. So make time for fun as you would for exercise or meditation. It is that important, especially in this tract of our lives.  What do YOU like to do for fun? Comment below and let us know! And don’t forget to share this website with those you know could use a lift.


Chang, P; Yarnal,C; & Chick, G (2016). The longitudinal association between playfulness and resilience in older women engaged in the Red Hat Society. Journal of Leisure Research (48) pp 210-227.

2 thoughts on “Why You Should Get Serious about Play

  1. As we age, we often tend to shun technology because of the learning curve … but one of the most fun things I’ve done since the beginning of the pandemic is play an interactive online trivia game with my daughter and her husband. We see each other on screens, and we laugh and chat and are as competitive about winning as we are when we play in person. It’s a fun way to stay connected with friends and loved ones, even if you live alone.


    1. That is such a cool idea! Sounds like it would be fun to do with grandchildren too, not only during a pandemic but also when they live far away. Thanks for sharing!


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