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How Childhood Games May Prolong Your Life

By January 20, 2014June 30th, 2016Moments

This is guest post by Nevin Thompson/a>, who frequently writes about healthcare issues on behalf of HealthcareVictoria.com.

Stephen Jepson learned to snowboard at the age of 60.  At the age of 72 he’s currently learning to fly an airplane.

Jepson is also teaching himself to juggle clubs standing on a bongo board (a bongo board is a little piece of wood with a roller underneath).

On top of that, Jepson flies around the globe, helping people create and maintain lifestyle that fosters healthy brain growth throughout their lives.

Why?

“Because sedentary life is death,” says Jepson.

“Think about it!” says Jepson. “When did we humans begin to become hunter-gatherers? Nearly two million years ago.”

Jepson notes that it has only been about 11,000 years ago since humans left the forest and developed agriculture.

“So, for this huge amount of time in our history, humans evolved to be hunter-gatherers,” says Jepson.

“For nearly two million years human beings went barefoot. We were very careful where we placed our feet. When we’re barefoot we tend to pay attention to the terrain – our feet will be put through a tremendous range of flexibility and motion.”

Walking barefoot was good for our body and good for our brain.

Nowadays, we wear shoes and typically walk on flat surfaces.

And this, combined with our sedentary lifestyle, says Jepson, is affecting brain development.

“Adopting a more physical lifestyle means people can continue to do physical activities in later life and maintain high quality of life as they age,” says Jepson.

Learning new physical activities keeps us not only fit, but also enhances neuroplasticity to keep our minds sharp.

“Many of us start sitting on our asses when we enter college, and it’s killing us,” says Jepson.

Developing and maintaining neuroplasticity is important for us as we age, says Jepson.

Plasticity, or neuroplasticity, describes how experiences reorganize neural pathways in the brain. Long-lasting functional changes in the brain occur when we learn new things or memorize new information.

“If you have stroke or other condition that affects your brain, neuroplasticity can help you recover more quickly,” Jepson says. “Your body has already created “backup” circuits that will help speed the recovery process.”

Stephen Jepson says the secrets to encouraging neuroplasticity can be found by looking at the games we used to do as children.

“If you look in the dictionary, there is a huge number of different definitions of the word “play.” That means there lots of ways to think of play,” says Jepson.

“You don’t have to juggle or throw knives like I do,” says Jepson.

Jepson says sitting in a chair and picking up marbles with your toes, or using your less dominant hand or foot – typically your left one – to do daily tasks also works.

“If you can do only one thing for your health make it to be physically active,” says Jepson. “Movement makes us smarter.”

Learn more about Stephen Jepson at http://bit.ly/1f6mIfW.