On a warm summer night Charles Whitley, a new resident of Sunnyvale Rest home, strains and sighs as he carefully leans his eighty-two-year old body forward to get a better look. Charles peers through his upstairs window, intently watching the neighborhood children play kick the can.

Reminiscing, he searches his memories for days filled with running, jumping, skipping, hiding, and the familiar ting of a can and shouts of laughter.

One day Charles shares an idea with his old friend, Ben Conroy. He wonders aloud, “What if playing kick-the-can could somehow magically make us young again? Ben, did you ever stop to think of it? All kids play kick the can or hide and seek, and the minute they stop playing, they begin to grow old. It’s almost as though playing kick the can keeps them young.”

Late one-night Ben watches in amazement as Charles leads a group of his elderly housemates onto the front lawn to play kick the can. As Ben rubs his eyes, he gasps at what he sees. One moment Charles and his feeble senior playmates are shuffling out the door, and the next they are magically transformed into their young ten-year-old carefree selves, skipping, and running off into the warm summer night.

This tale, from the classic 1960s TV series Twilight Zone, makes you wonder if Charles Whitley was on to something.

Believe it or not, you can turn back the clock to some degree and re-energize your body, mind, and heart. We want to invite you to sneak away from old ways of thinking about fitness in order to learn from others who have successfully uncovered the secret to staying young, healthy, and fit.

Remember When

Picture yourself when you were a fifth grader, probably nine or ten years old.
Do you remember …

  • -Looking into the sky watching clouds morph into zoo animals and cartoon characters?
  • -Running with outstretched arms like Superman or Wonder Woman, saving the entire city?
  • -Playing tag, getting caught, and laughing so hard you couldn’t breathe?
  • -Climbing trees?
  • -Running and jumping into a pile of leaves?
  • -Not worrying about how much you weighed, what you looked like, what clothes you wore, or how much money you had?
  • -Skipping, hiding, seeking, shooting, chasing, swimming, dancing, and catching?

When we were young, moving our bodies was a natural part of our day. We looked forward to recess. We longed for it. We dreamt about it. We waited patiently for the school bell to ring or our next-door neighbor to come home to play. We were always in motion.

PLAY Like A Kid

Dr. William Sears, “America’s Pediatrician,” is the father of eight children and a best-selling author and, most important, loves kids. He asked fitness expert Foy to co-author a book with him and his son Peter, called Lean Kids.

With the desire to help children combat inactivity and obesity, they set out to create a proven program that would be implemented in schools, after-school facilities, churches, and community centers throughout the United States. They knew that to help kids move more, they would need to come up with a fun way of building activity back into their lives. They thought it would be easy.

What they didn’t realize was how much activity had been removed from our children’s lives. In performing their research, Dr. Sears and Foy looked at movement patterns of youth years ago.

They also fondly remembered when they were young, playing outdoors. Today, for our kids, it is just the opposite. With tablets, smart phones, and online games, kids today need to be coaxed to go outside. They spend much of their days sitting down and therefore experience some of the same health and fitness challenges as adults three times their age.

So Foy and the Searses went to work, with a passion and desire to design a curriculum and program geared to help kids get moving again. They created the PLAY program and implemented it in various after-school facilities. After the initial pilot programs, they were pleased to see that children improved not only their strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, coordination, weight loss, and overall fitness and health, but also their confidence, self-esteem, emotional well-being, relationships, and quality of life.

Foy and the Searses knew they were onto something. Today there are more than 1,000 certified LEAN coaches who are helping kids and families get fit throughout the world. That same program is the basis for the PLAY concept of The Daniel Plan.

Back to The Joy of PLAY

Back then we called it play, and we loved every minute of it. Today, for many, we call it exercise and count every minute of it, longing for it to be over. We frequently find it painful, boring, or dull, and we feel guilty about not doing it. For many of us, the results of tomorrow are just not worth the effort today. Many of us won’t switch to an active lifestyle just because it’s good for us.

So what will change us?

Kay Warren said, “You were meant for something more. You were meant to experience a life of joy.” God designed us to experience joy. In fact, we crave it and search for it. Unfortunately, when stress builds up, joy escapes us, and we wind up overeating, overworking, overstressing, overdoing, and even over-sitting. Most of our days are spent with long spans of minimal movement, which impacts not only our joy, but also our bodies.

The Daniel Plan integrates motion with devotion and brings back the fun and joy to your fitness and life.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? Sure, we can pop in the extreme fitness DVD or drag ourselves to the gym for a few weeks or months, but sooner or later, if we don’t enjoy what we are doing, we are going to find a way out. Why spend time enduring workouts we don’t enjoy when we can experience all the health and fitness benefits of a complete exercise program, having fun learning to PLAY again?

P: Prayerful movements throughout your day
L: Loosening breaks
A: Active games and aerobic activity
Y: Youthful strength training

All of the elements found in the PLAY method are essential to an effective fitness program. Some of them are also designed to help strengthen your relationship to God. By applying this simple method to your day, you will recapture your strength and the joy of moving again.