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When was the last time you played tag? What about dodgeball or capture the flag? Hide-n-go-seek? If it has been a few years, you may want to grab a few friends for a friendly game or two. I recently attended a school event with my 9-year-old son. Many families gathered during this meet-n-greet event. As we were nearing the end, a few teachers announced that the parents would be playing against the kids in a game of “capture the flag.”

For those unfamiliar with the game, it involves two teams who must protect their flag at opposing ends of a field. If opponents cross onto the other team’s side of the field, they are in enemy territory, and if they get tagged by the enemy, they are captured and can only be freed by a teammate tagging them. The object of the game is to grab the flag of the opposing team and carry it back to the other side of the field without getting tagged.

It was quite interesting to play against an army of young veterans. What was more interesting was how many parents refused to play because they were not “military grade.” Of the parents that were brave enough to enter this grade school combat, many were exhausted after only minutes of play. Granted, the game does involve speed, agility, and quickness, and you might think that spending hours on a treadmill and hitting the gym might help, it’s just not the same as playing. The same holds true for games like tag and dodgeball. Your body is asked to move in multiple directions at varying speeds and react quicker than your workouts normally demand.

Did you know that NFL players use the game of tag as a conditioning drill? It’s basically “kill the man with the ball,” just without the ball. Dodgeball incorporates speed, agility, and quickness with eye-hand coordination, throwing mechanics and game strategy. You don’t normally get those physical demands lifting weights or hitting the elliptical.

The main point to take away is that if you want to hold on to your youth don’t be afraid to play like you did when you were younger. Climb a tree, play hopscotch, Saying, “I’m too old for this (fill in the blank)!”, gets you further away from your longevity and closer to the nursing home