Playing like a kid can save your life. Does that sound too dramatic? Consider this: Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). In 2000, 46% of fatal falls among older adults were due to TBI. And what’s the leading cause of falls among older folks? Loss of balance and coordination.
Last week, I saw an elderly woman fall after tripping on a sidewalk seam. Luckily she didn’t get hurt but she was completely unable to get back up by herself. My husband and I helped her up and walked her back to her home. That really got me thinking about the need to build and maintain strength and balance. If she had fallen inside her home, who would have helped her up?
Meet A 71-Year-Old Who Never Stops Playing
Stephen Jepson believes everyone needs to play. He makes the argument that it’s not just your body that will benefit, it will also turn us into better thinkers by developing new neural pathways. When you watch the video, you’ll be shocked by some of the things he does. You might even be tempted to label him an anomaly — an exceptional human that no one else could possibly emulate — but he would not agree. In fact, he makes a very important point near the end of the video: It’s never too late to start and it’s perfectly okay to start small.
You’ve got to watch this. It’s less than 8 minutes long and I guarantee you’ll enjoy every second.
7 Ways To Start Playing Today
Are you ready to start playing? Below, I’m listing my seven best ideas but if you’ve got any small children in the house, ask them for their advice. They’re sure to come up with some interesting alternatives.*
- Learn to juggle: If juggling seems too difficult, start by using silk scarves. They’ll move more slowly than a bean bag or other hard item, and you won’t damage yourself or nearby furniture. If the learning process makes you laugh, that’s a double benefit.
- Take up Tai Chi: Find a local class that matches your physical abilities or find a beginner’s video on YouTube. Balance exercises and Tai Chi have been shown to decrease falls and reduce the risk of hip fracture.
- Join a Laughter Yoga Club: Haven’t heard of it? It’s a series of movement and breathing exercises that invite laughter without using jokes or humour. Here’s how to find a Laughter Yoga club in your area.
- Dance. You don’t have to go to a club. Turn on the radio, use an iPod, hum an old favourite.
- Throw a Frisbee. This is excellent for stretching and developing hand-eye coordination.
- Play badminton in the house. You can buy a foam badminton set at the Dollar Store.
- Romp with your dog.
Over to you, now. Let us know in the comments what you’re doing for fun these days or what you’d like to try.
*Please, if you have a medical condition, check with your doctor before making any significant changes. This article is not intended as medical counsel.