When thinking of outdoor games, we normally think of them as ways to have fun, which they are, but have you ever thought about them a little differently? Hear me out. There are already exercise programs in place for activities such as jumping rope and hula-hooping, so we know some of these classic games can be used as a way to get fit, but what other skills can you take from them? How about improving your coordination. Let’s take a look at classic outdoor games and the skills you can improve by playing them. Sometimes all you need to get started is a piece of chalk.
Double Dutch and Jumprope
Not only is jumping rope a fun activity you can do solo or with a group, but its also a great way to improve coordination. We all know the main goal of jumping rope is to pretty much jump over the rope, so coordinating the movements of your feet with the turns of the rope is key. That might be easier to do with a singular rope, since you are turning it yourself, but double dutch takes a bit more concentration since you are relying on two other people to turn two ropes for you in opposite directions. According to the Jump Rope Institute, “jumping helps to develop the left and right hemispheres of the brain, to further improve spatial awareness and reading skills, and increases memory and mental alertness. Jumping on balls of the feet requires the body and mind to make neural muscular adjustments to imbalances created from continuous jumping. As a result jumping improves dynamic balance and coordination, reflexes, bone density, and muscular endurance.”
Hula-Hooping has become a popular way for people to exercise. Whether you use the normal colorful hoops or the weighted hoops, you have to keep your hips moving for the hoop to stay up. Hula-hooping can assist in improving your hand-eye coordination, rhythm, and motor skills. If you’re looking for a challenge, try hula-hooping in the direction opposite of your dominant or try some tricks.
Hopscotch is the definition of a classic outdoor game. This game allows you to bring some creativity to the pavement when the different color pieces of chalk come out, and you have to figure out how long you want your game to be. That’s not all you get to take away from a game of hopscotch. Hopping down the squares to pick up your pebble helps with improving balance, hand-eye coordination, and body control.
There are a variety of hand-clapping games out there with songs to match. Shame, Slide Baby, Down Down Baby, Miss Mary Mack, and Rocking Robin are a few to name, but the list can go on and on. Bilateral coordination and rhythm are necessary when it comes to singing the right words with the motions of your hands. Hand clapping games also help improve cognitive skills such as memory.
Who remembers playing Cat’s cradle, the fun string game of challenging patterns and puzzles? Cat’s Cradle is another game that helps with hand-eye coordination. Maneuvering the string between your fingers also improves dexterity and problem-solving skills. It’s also a fun game that you can enjoy with others. Teamwork is often necessary to get through the puzzles and onto the next shape.
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