Children make fitness seem so easy. Watching them run, jump and swim all day long is impressive when half an hour on a treadmill is enough to do you in. We’d all love to go back to those days, when stamina was taken for granted, but those days have long passed, right?
Maybe it’s time to tear a page out of our kids’ books and make a few changes towards a more active lifestyle.
The first step of understanding a kid’s fitness habits is to perform a thorough anthropological study. You must immerse yourself in their activities. Take your kid to the park, but leave your usual spot on the bench and instead follow the young ones around the playground, doing whatever it is they do. You’ll probably feel silly at times, but the calories burned will make it worthwhile. Plus your workout will seem like good parenting to anyone watching.
This is how children hang out: moving and running and throwing things. So make it social for you too: start going to classes at the gym, join a community sports team or just start organizing day hikes with friends and family instead of dinner parties and movie nights. It’s a simple switch that yields noticeable results.
Children love to win. This is just a fact. Even the least competitive adults were once trophy-hungry kids. Draw on this, but to avoid regressing into poor sportsmanship, try channeling that competitive spirit into your own goals. Keeping track of little achievements on the way to your goal (pounds lost, stamina gained, etc.) can put you on the right track. You can even stick a few gold stars on the calendar for those days that you really outdo yourself.
And, when you finally achieve the goal? When you complete that marathon, fit into your high school jeans or finally win a game of tennis? It turns out that it still feels pretty good to win.
Remember when you didn’t have a car? Or TV privileges? Or a job? Or any money?
A lot of those calories kids burn come from necessity. Rewind the clock on your weekends and spend Saturday day doing the stuff you make your children do: wash the car, wash the dog, walk to the store to pick up the milk, eat carrot sticks at snack time, take your bike to the park if you want to go somewhere so bad–no TV, no movies, no quick trips in the car. You’ll be surprised at how much exercise it actually is.
Have you ever tried to convince your child that sitting quietly is an enjoyable pastime? It’s really hard to do and usually results in louder noises because, well, yelling is just more fun. Kids do what they want, and they do it was an admirable rabidity. You should, too.
If you have trouble sticking to an exercise regimen, it’s probably because deep down you think that going to the gym kind of sucks. So find a routine that doesn’t: maybe it’s hiking, maybe it’s joining a community soccer league or maybe it’s riding your bike to work. Whatever you decide, make it a lifestyle change and not a chore.
Guest Whitney Cox is a New Zealand-based blogger. She writes on behalf of MAX Fitness, which offers personal training courses to aspiring fitness professionals. MAX’s certificate in fitness qualifies students to work as personal trainers all over the world.