Why We Should Approach Exercise Like Kids

Adults call it working out, kids call it playing

Like most things in life. when thinking about exercise, we can turn to kids to see how to do it right. If you’ve ever spent any time around children, you know that you frequently find yourself saying things like:

  • Don’t climb on that!
  • Slow Down!
  • Sit still!
  • No running!

Moving fast, keeping their bodies in motion, and burning calories is what kids do best.  In fact, I often joke, I wish someone had to tell me to stop running so much!

Whether it’s participating in organized sports or just sprinting down the grocery store aisles, children have an innate need to move. They are constantly “working” on their physical fitness without even realizing it. Their exercise almost always comes in the form of fun and playing.

So when does that change? At what point does physical fitness become a chore for us? And how can we be more like children and approach exercise like play, rather than a necessary evil to reach a fitness or weight loss goal.

I myself am completely guilty of dreading exercise. It is usually an afterthought in my life and something I think of as a mandatory “have to” and not a “want to.” I have spent much time being jealous of people who describe exercise as their “me time” or something that they love. I wouldn’t describe myself as a couch potato, but I’m the furthest thing from a gym rat or marathon runner you will ever find.

But recently, something changed. After accepting a 30 day Yoga Challenge in January that has now turned into 70 Yoga sessions completed for the year (Namaste, y’all!), I kinda found my exercise groove. At first I was proud of my accomplishment, but then I told myself that my form of exercise doesn’t really count because I’m not doing hard core HIIT workouts everyday or logging miles on a fancy stationary bike. I was conditioned to the “No pain, no gain” mentality about fitness. When in reality, finding what works for YOU, what YOU look forward to, and what YOU have fun doing, is the best type of “working out.”

Canva - Person Performing Exercise

Maybe the key to approaching exercise like kids, is just a matter of finding what’s fun. Maybe we all will find ourselves moving more if we do it in a way that works for us, and not what works for everyone else. This process of finding a form of exercise that we actually look forward to can take time. (It took me about 37 years, people.) But, if we find ways to keep our bodies in motion because it’s an activity we look forward to, and not just for the purpose of attaining a specific fitness goal, we’re more likely to stick with it.

No one has to remind a kid to jump on a trampoline or ride their bike. They just do it because they love it. If you are a person that genuinely loves a sweaty, high tempo, tough gym workout, then go for it! But if you are a person who gets joy from a 3 mile walk on the beach while listening to an audio book, then do it and don’t feel anything less than proud of yourself. Moving your body and being happy about it is the goal.  Find the thing that doesn’t feel like a chore. Find the thing that makes you feel like a kid. And, as my favorite Yogi instructor always says, “Find what feels good.”

 

 

Read Across America Day!

You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child. -Dr. SeussMarch 2 is Dr. Seuss’s birthday-otherwise known as Read Across America Day. This day was created by the National Education Association as a way to encourage young children to read more and to become excited about books. You may just know this day as the day that you have to dress your kids up in crazy clothes or make a Seuss themed snack for their class, but I promise you, it is so much more than that.

Seuss was fantastic for incorporating rhymes, word families, sight words and silly story lines into his books that generations of children have grown to love. But let’s get honest, his books are, well, long. Even the most seasoned of parents and educators have grown weary while reading Dr. Seuss. If your child’s favorite book happens to be a Seuss one, you’ve no doubt become quite familiar with the lengthiness of his works.

So here’s the thing about reading. It’s not about who can read the fastest. It’s not about who can read the most. And it’s certainly not about only reading one particular author’s books. The point of reading, especially at a young age, should always be enjoyment. The meaning of today’s holiday is to excite children about the fun of reading. Some kids love the predictable pattern of Seuss’s words and feel proud being able to guess which words will come next in the text. Others love his fantastically silly characters. However, if your kid has a limited attention span or just isn’t feeling the Seuss vibes, I encourage you to put down Cat in the Hat and find what works for your little one.

Head to the library. Go to Barnes and Noble. Check out the book section in Target and see what your child gravitates to. (*real books- not audio or digital!) Find new authors or think back to what your favorite book was as a child. Make your read aloud time together be special. Make it fun. And always keep the goal of loving reading as your primary focus. 

Searching for an Education Friendly Politician…

Unless you’ve been hiding in a bunker, you may have noticed that we are in a heated election cycle. Debates, town halls, primaries, caucuses (I can’t be the only one that giggles when I say that word!)…we are fully involved in all things politicians and elections. And while I can’t tell you who I would like to vote for or who I think you should support, I can tell you what I’m looking for in a leader. I’m searching for a candidate that puts education on the forefront.

As far as I’m concerned, the state of our public education has an effect on every other part of our lives. From the future of climate science, to our children’s mental health, to our ability to compete on the world stage, it all comes down to education. And where will our education system be without the backbone of it all- our teachers?

So, this election cycle I’m paying attention. I’m paying attention to how schools will be funded. I’m listening to how politicians talk about our failing and under performing schools. Do they view them as something to avoid or defer money from, or do they have strong plans to repair them? Do they speak as though teachers are deserving of respect and living wages? Will they appoint cabinet members who actually have experience in Public Education? Do they truly get Nelson Mandela’s words, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”?

For the sake of our kids, our schools, and our teachers, I’m paying attention. I don’t see any perfect candidate. And some of my favorites have already dropped out. But, there are glimmers that some on the horizon are starting to understand what we in the teaching world have known for a while…our country is nothing without a strong education system.

Respect our teachers like soldiers and pay them like we do doctors. -Pete Buttigieg