Stephen Jepson presents
– A Guide to Lifetime Fitness and Creativity –
John C. Campbell Folk School Brasstown, NC
Monday, January 14, 2013
4:45 PM in Keith House

Never Leave the Playground

Never Leave the Playground

At age 72, Stephen Jepson is living proof of his philosophy of lifetime fitness he calls Never Leave The Playground

And the results are astounding.

Stephen juggles while standing on a bongo board, rides a unicycle, walks a tightrope, plays jacks and throws knives with both hands, picks up marbles with both feet and puts them in containers, rides his bike 12 miles a day, and much more. He’s won 80 gold medals for swimming since age 65, swam across Iowa’s Spirit Lake – a distance of 4.6 miles – at age 66, and rode the 450 mile Iowa Ragbrai bike ride at age 70, among other accomplishments.

No, he’s not an anomaly of nature. He says the secret to lifetime fitness is to “just keep moving” through constant play, not exercise, and he’s developed toys for all ages and physical stages to use in our daily lives so we never have to leave the playground of our youth.

No matter how impaired the body has become through neglect or disease or aging, constant movement is imperative to regaining and maintaining balance, stability, coordination, and growth. He calls it “age proofing the brain and body,” and it can begin at any age or any condition of the body and show remarkable improvement instantly, not only physically, but mentally and creatively as well.

Stephen received his MFA in ceramics from Alfred University and was a professor at the University of Florida for eight years where he started the ceramics department in 1972 before forming his own company, Jepson Pottery. He’s won many awards for his pottery including having a piece purchased by the Smithsonian, and he has an international following with his instructional videos and teaching seminars at his World Pottery Institute.

However, the last three years, he has committed himself to researching and documenting his theory of lifetime fitness which has culminated in NEVER LEAVE THE PLAYGROUND.

Studies have shown that constant, consistent physical movement throughout our lives is the single most important thing we can do. Every cell in our body is affected by movement. Movement training can prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, the paralysis of MS and Parkinson’s, and delay the effects of aging since neural pathways open and increase as we learn new activities – just like we did on the playgrounds of our childhoods.

We are born to move.

For millions of years, our ancestors were hunter/gatherers. During those prehistoric times, they were constantly moving to survive: gathering food, hauling water, hunting game, etc., and they walked or ran an average of 8 to 10 miles every day. There was a direct relationship between movement and survival and good health. Imagine if ancient man was afforded the luxuries of modern medicine. Who knows how long they would have lived?

We no longer have to move to survive. We can go to our refrigerator to get food. Most of our lives are sedentary. We sit to drive, work, watch TV and movies, and play with our electrical gadgets. By not moving, we become mentally sluggish. Our creativity and productivity diminishes, and our bodies begin to die a little at a time through lack of use. Modern medicine works overtime to keep us healthy and negate the effects of inertia on the body and mind.

Instead of sitting all day, then exercising feverishly for an hour or so, Jepson encourages constant movement and play throughout the day. Standing and balancing on one foot, then the other while typing at a raised desk, for instance: pacing while on the phone or watching TV or a movie; playing with toys for the hands or feet while doing other tasks – all are essential to age proof the mind and body.

Puppies and kittens and children run around wildly chasing each other, tumbling, rolling – developing quick and agile movements. Children play jacks, hopscotch, jump rope, swing, slide, play running games and ballgames, continually refining the speed and accuracy of hand and foot movements, stamina, and breathing – very important at any age in continuing the plasticity, growth and health of our brains as well.

No matter where you are in your physical journey, he’s invented the toys and games to play singly or with others to help us play our way to and maintain our health at any age.

It’s time for all of us to go back to the playground and never leave it again. And Stephen Jepson is taking us there!

Susan Jensen

Stephen Jepson is teaching a class at the Folk School that week as well. Check it out on our website

Susan Jensen
About Susan Jensen