Making A Game of It

I was recently invited to speak to a group of anatomy students at Brown College in Mendota Heights, MN. Their teacher came across Mark Hyman, MD’s Experience Life “United States of Diabesity” article and shared it with her class as part of their section on heart disease.

As part of their class assignment and in support of the school’s wellness week, the students created a game inspired by the article that demonstrates how many diseases, such as type-2 diabetes, are in part lifestyle diseases and that making some simple, daily decisions can really make a big difference to your overall health and wellbeing.

Here’s how their game works:

The students drew a line on a white board with hash marks and one end says “healthy” and the other says “sickness.”

The player of the game then sticks a laminated face on the board in the middle hash mark. Then you draw three cards from three different categories: mental, physical and nutritional health. The cards are face down so you can’t see them.

Then, your cards are read and you move in one direction or the other based on your “decisions.” At the end of your nine choices, you see where you end up on the spectrum.

The game functioned well because individuals of any age or health level can understand it. They kept the choices simple and included subjects that most people deal with on a daily basis. Things like: “I completed a project at work and proceeded to focus on all the errors and started feeling bad about myself” and “You asked a friend to go to a gym with you.”

Most of all, their game showed that living a healthy, happy life isn’t about one or two decisions you make, but a culmination of all of them. It’s what you do 85% of the time that counts.

Don’t beat yourself up if you enjoy a piece of cake or glass of wine to celebrate once in a while. Just remember that parking at the far end of the parking lot or taking the stairs can be great, simple choices that nudge you toward being healthier overall.

Kudos to healthy rebels, Tammy Kubal, Kassy Partch, Joanna Prokes, D.C. and Karol Baumeister for creating such an inspiring and informative game!


Heidi Wachter is the Community Engagement Specialist for Experience Life magazine.