July 22, 2017

Learning from your Kids by Jennifer Austin

School is out! Look no further than your children to gain inspiration how to enjoy living active. Add a little “recess” into your exercise and fitness program. Here’s what kids can teach US about having fun during physical activity:

Running as fast as you can feels great! Running wildly is fun. Rather than focusing on tensing this muscle and relaxing that muscle, stride length and time splits, etc, just run! Leave your watch at home and go. Adjust your stride by how your muscles feel. When you’re tired slow down, if you have a burst of energy, run faster. Keep it simple.

Abandoning structure is fun! Structured workouts do have a place in living healthy, but so do impromptu workouts. Bring the play back into your fitness. Adopt an anything-goes attitude with your exercise. Try a crab walk contest across the living room floor with your toddler, play tag with your dog in the backyard or see who can bring in the groceries from the car the fastest, do an impromptu set of walking lunges down your hallway. No rules, anything goes. Workout clothing and set exercise location are not always required to gain healthy living benefits.

There’s always room for one more player. There’s always room for a fellow-exerciser. Meeting others with the common interest of living healthy is a great way to find a new activity or training buddy. All exercisers have a common goal of improving health. Instead of allowing ego to interfere, it’s more fun to embrace them than to resent or feel threatened by a new player.

Get excited! Ever watch kids getting ready for recess? The teacher barely has time to open the door before the children are darting outside, practically climbing over one another to reach the school yard first. What excites you about your fitness? Find something! Crank up your favorite tunes, invite friends, try a different location, bring along your dog. If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it long-term.

Making up the rules as you go makes fitness fun. Diverting from your usual walking route to check out a house under construction provides extra interest and motivation. Deciding last minute to walk to lunch, instead of driving allows sunlight to boost your energy and mood. A simple walking the dog can become an interval training workout. Create a game you can play while at the park or beach with friends. Make up a scoring system, start a round-robin tournament, set up goal-posts using sticks or picnic tables. Before you know it, everyone will be chiming in to determine the game rules. Creativity with your healthy living adds spontaneity, go with it; be open to where it leads you!

Shouting, laughing and singing as you’re active is invigorating! Exercise doesn’t always have to be so serious. Having a sense of humor makes it more enjoyable…for everyone. Smiling is okay!

Full body moves are way more interesting. Climbing on a jungle-gym requires both arms, both legs and core muscles. Swinging requires arms holding on while kicking legs to create momentum. Playing handball against the backboard requires bending arms and legs, rotating our torso, running to retrieve the ball. Pulling on the ropes and bars means all of our muscles have to work together. Full body moves like Squat/Press and Lunge/Bicep Curl are great go-to total body exercises.

Exercise opportunities are everywhere. Bending, twisting, hopping, bouncing, twirling. Ever notice how a group of kids simply cannot sit still? As adults, we tend to only sit still. Stop it! Standing in line? Do heel and toe raises. Stuck in traffic? Pinch your shoulder blades together and pull your belly button in for 30 second intervals. Waiting for an appointment? Walk around the building.

Kids can teach us lots about adding the fun back into our fitness. Embrace your healthy living efforts as the one time during your day in which you can, have permission to, are able to…relax, enjoy yourself and have some fun moving, twisting, shouting, laughing, dancing, smiling, singing, running, climbing!

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