Healthy balance, brains & bones: ‘watering’ the brain (Part 5)

Healthy balance, brains & bones: ‘watering’ the brain (Part 5)

Whistle Walk

Objectives: divided attention, audio skills, vestibular balance, cardio

Group participants so they have room to travel forward. Cue participants to walk forward, walking on an imaginary line, one foot in front of the other. On one whistle, participants turn only their heads to the right and continue moving forward (a), then on two quick whistles, they turn only their bodies a quarter turn to the right as they continue moving forward. Continue mixing the sequence of single and double whistle cues, reminding players to keep moving. Repeat, turning the head and body to the left. Play for about two minutes, stopping periodically to check positions (and laugh!).

Check for safe movements in shallow water (players are focused, so may wander into deep water). Change the frequency and type of whistle cue for more challenge. Also, in a safe space, participants can play with their eyes  closed, each working with a buddy (with eyes open) for traffic control. Modify the game by working one-on-one, or in a small group.


Shapes Up!

Objectives: visual skills, quick decisions, problem solving

For this game, you will need to make paddles out of painter sticks and colored paper (red, blue, yellow, green), as well as paddles to cue shapes (figure eight, square, circle, X or cross, triangle).

Divide participants into four teams based on the above colors, and give each person a hat, rubber band or webbed gloves corresponding to team color. Scatter the teams around the pool and cue a cardio set of exercises for about two to three minutes, with participants moving to music. From the deck, fl ash paddles to indicate a color and a shape (a), moving through all the paddles throughout the game. Players have to quickly find their other team members and create that shape while they continue to jog (b). The team that “shapes up” first wins. Cue another cardio set with teams scattered and mix up the paddle pile, so shapes and colors are paired differently. Continue to interrupt your cardio sets with shapes up challenges.

For more challenge, increase the pace of the paddle fl ashes so participants focus faster (I don’t use a whistle, so they have to pay attention). Modify by working slower and in smaller groups.


Red Light/Green Light

Objectives: visual skills, cardio, balance

Organize your group for a workout. Using the red and green paper paddles from “Shapes Up!” above, hold up the red “card” to stop a move (a) (on the spot and hold) and then the green card to continue the move (go) during the workout. Have players line up at the end of the pool and walk/jog/run the length of the pool as you use the stop/start cues along the way. Change the frequency and speed of paddle cues, mix them up and surprise players with stop cues when they least expect them. Modify by decreasing frequency and speed of the start/stop changes.


Pass the Paddle, Pass the Ball

Objectives: divided attention, multitasking, cardio

Group participants so they have room to travel forward. Each team of two players should have one ball and one paddle (or a combination of different equipment). Players walk forward, sideways or backwards as they pass the two pieces of equipment to each other (a). Participants use a different pathway for each pass, continuing to travel as they pass the equipment. Work for about two to three minutes. Modify by passing only one piece of equipment, and progress to two pieces of the same equipment. Start stationary and progress to traveling.


Conducting Liquid Flow

Objectives: music, balance, movement

Group up participants. Play music and have participants “conduct” their own orchestras using a resistance band as their batons. Players move the band around their bodies, beneath, above and through the water (a). Ask them to write their names through the water, reaching farther and making movements large as they change the base of support from two-legged stands to one. Change the speeds, shapes and travel, as participants continue to feel the flow of the music and water.

Inspire changes by cueing participants to draw numbers, letters, words or shapes as they conduct and walk, jog, reach and stretch. Ask players to move the band around them without letting it touch the body. Modify by folding the band in half to make it smaller, and using smaller, slower movements working from a stable base of support (e.g., a lunge).


Clean Up Your Own Backyard

Objectives: quick decisions, multitasking, cardio

For this game, you will need hula hoops in different colors or noodles (two per team), as well as all the equipment you have around the pool. Float hula hoops out in the pool to serve as “backyards.” With noodles, choose two people to hold the equipment to create a backyard (circle). Assign each backyard a team color or name.

Divide the group into two to four “clean up” teams, depending on the number of participants. Group the teams near the wall in shallow water, then scatter as much equipment as you have (e.g., balls, paddles, bands, noodles, etc.) in the pool. On the whistle, the teams try to collect as much “stuff ” as they can, one piece at a time, and put it in their corresponding.


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