Healthy balance, brains & bones: ‘watering’ the brain (Part 4)

Healthy balance, brains & bones: ‘watering’ the brain (Part 4)

Suggested reading

  • Magnificent Mind at Any Age
  • Author: Daniel G Amen, MD
  • Publisher: Harmony, 2008
  • My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey
  • Author: Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD
  • Publisher: Penguin Group, 2008
  • SPARK: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain
  • Author: John J. Ratey, MD
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2008
  • Where Did I Leave My Glasses? The What, When, and Why of Normal Memory Loss
  • Author: Martha Weinman Lear
  • Publisher: Wellness Central, 2008


Splash! Buoy your brain games

Add these shallow water games to your workout programs. Many of these exercises cross train balance, agility and general conditioning. Be sure to practice the games before you play though, so everyone understands the rules.


Weave Walk

Objectives: sensory conflict, divided attention, balance, cardio

Divide participants into two teams, each wearing team wristbands in an assigned color. The teams line up shoulder-to shoulder, facing each other (a). On the whistle, everyone walks forward (b), crossing shoulder-to-shoulder between each other to reach the other side (c).

Repeat crossing a few times and work the currents. Increase speed.

Again on the whistle, cue the two end participants (one from each team) to turn inward and walk straight down the lines of crossing teams—they will have to pay attention and make decisions as they weave their way to the end. Whistle cue the next two participants. Continue until all participants have walked the weave at least twice.

For more challenge, cue the pairs to walk backwards or sideways through the crossing teams. Modify by decreasing the number of people in the lines, bringing the lines closer together, moving slower, making the game simpler (group crossing only), and by stopping periodically to check balance and focus.


Jump Rope Teams

Objectives: quick decisions, cardio

Divide participants into teams of four, each given one 5-ft.-or-longer resistance band. Two players hold the band like a jump rope, but low enough so the other players can step or jump over it. Jumpers play tag, chasing each other as they jump “rope” (a) and figure eight around the rope holders. On the whistle, jumpers/runners change directions. Play for about three minutes.

Holders can adjust the rope’s height to mimic getting in and out of the bathtub, or wiggle it so players increase use of visual skills. Players can jump backwards or step over the rope sideways (get in the tub). Modify by holding the band lower, moving slower, and having only one jumper working at a time, or with the assistance of a buoyancy belt or partner. Rolling River modification: Play the game by creating a ladder with the bands, and cue participants to jump or step through the “rolling river” (b).


Doorbell Sprint

Objectives: quick decisions, cardio

Divide participants into teams of two, one person behind the other, and line up participants at the end of the pool so they have room to move forward. The teams then walk or jog in a line (like a train). On the whistle (“doorbell”), the back person sprints around the right side of the person in front to take over the lead (a). The player in front continues to move forward as the rear person takes the lead. Repeat on the next whistle, with participants alternating positions.

Sprinters do another lap, but this time they walk/jog around the left side of the lead person. Continue for about three minutes of play, reminding participants to keep moving. Sprinters can move and switch as they walk/jog sideways and backwards (check traffic to avoid collisions). Modify by decreasing speed, distance and number of switches over the distance.


This article is provided courtesy of the International Council on Active Aging