In my mind’s eye I see myself as a 12-year-old tomboy, so when I saw* what Stephen Jepson, a world-renowned potter with pieces in several museums including the Smithsonian, was doing at the age of 72, I knew I had to share it with people: He plays! There is a video of his day and his games and I encourage you to watch. Never Leave the Playground Video
I have tennis balls that I juggle occasionally and have been known to toss them up against the house. I’ve tried to remember the sequence to a game we used to play that we called Seven Up. You toss the ball at a wall a certain way; turning in a circle between it hitting the wall and you catching it, or throwing it under one leg, straight toss, one bounce and there was something in there with claps … I don’t remember them all but have played with the game the way I remember it. I love to play!
Stephen suggests that if you play using both your dominant and non-dominant hands it will improve your memory and brain function. I found support for his theory at the Franklin Institute which states that working with your non-dominant hand will strengthen existing neural connections and even build new ones.
Other games that Stephen plays are critical to developing and maintaining balance which is essential in limiting/eliminating falls as we age. His passion for spreading his style of play as a fun way for people to help themselves is inspiring. Part of what makes it difficult for people to choose exercise over television, reading or video games is that exercise is usually boring. Stephen shows us a way to make it fun!
Some of my favorites include tossing a ball (I just enjoy that) and juggling. I love the rock walk (I grew up with streams and creeks and rocks). I am going to figure out a way to incorporate that in my yard so that it’s not a pain to mow around. Stick flipping also looks like fun to me. When was the last time you played jacks, and with your non-dominant hand? Yikes!
A few weeks ago I came across a colorful chalk hopscotch grid while out walking The Wonder Dog. I was immediately all smiles … and yep, I played! (Found out I needed hopping practice.)
And here’s something I hate to admit: I’ve never thought of hopping on my bike for the fun of it post childhood … What’s up with that? I don’t have to ride it for miles. On a nice day I can just hop on and ride it around the block or the neighborhood; play.
I’d love to regularly hop the balance beam and step over pipes and jump over things, but I’m not sure how I’d get that equipment set up. I don’t have a lot of storage, so I’m looking around at things and wondering what would work. I’d definitely have to start small with the jumping games. Since my hip replacement in 2008 my jumping skills leave much to be desired. I’d better stick with hopscotch for awhile.
Do you live by a playground? Lucky you … Go PLAY!!
*Big thanks to whichever Facebook friend posted the video. I tried to find it again, but after 10 minutes of looking up and down and back and forth, I gave up … THANKS!