Fitness lessons from a 5-year-old

My kid is a genius. Everyone thinks that, and they’re probably right. When was the last time you spent a whole day with your kid being present and open to what she has to say and how she wants to do things? This is what I did last week.

On Monday, I talked about how spending a week hanging out with my kid schooled me on having a beginner’s mind. It was like attending a workshop taught by the master. You can read about what I learned here. In this blog, I will tell you what I learned about stellar physical health from my 5-year-old.

Little kids are fantastic athletes. They are nimble, flexible, full of energy, and always present. They are also fearless. When it comes to finding activities that keep them active while having fun, they are masters. Therein the lesson lies.

As adults, we think that in order to get a good workout in it has to be, well, work. Sure, there are things we can do to burn more calories in a shorter amount of time, build more muscle, increase flexibility, or increase stamina. But none of those things work if you don’t do them regularly. The key is consistency.

In order to remain consistent, I recommend applying the lessons in physical fitness I learned from my kid:

  1. Have fun. This is the most important. For most of us, if exercise is a drag, or simply one more thing we’re supposed to do every day, we won’t do it long term. Find something active that is fun for you or find a way to make your regular work out fun. Maybe you like to play games like softball, basketball, racquetball, or tennis. Maybe you walk every day but are starting to find it tedious. Try listening to a podcast or audiobook, mix it up by choosing a different path or varying your speed. Find something to keep it fresh.
  2. Do what makes you feel good. Many people practice yoga because it moves parts of their body that don’t often get used and it is a fantastic way to reduce stress by focusing on movement rather than on the million things that need attention that day. They do it because it feels good. Other people run, rock climb, bike, or practice martial arts for the same reason. Find something that makes you feel good and do it every day.
  3. Get social. Maybe a group class will be enjoyable because you will see the same people on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It becomes a social affair for many people. They hit spin class and then go for coffee or a smoothie after. This has the added benefit of keeping you accountable. If people are expecting you to be there, you are more likely to go. Join a running club, pilates studio, yoga class, spin class, or Zumba class to get social!
  4. Find a creative outlet. As adults, we tend to lose our creative edge, which is really too bad. It is an advantage for us to have the ability to think outside of the box. Creativity is a tool that can put us ahead of the competition. Honing that creativity in your daily workout is a “two birds with one stone” scenario. Find a dance class like Zumba, hip-hop, pound, or even ballroom, swing or country dancing. Golf can also be an exercise in creative problem-solving. These are all super fun, too!
  5. Get into nature. Getting outside is so good for you in so many ways. Outside there is sun, fresh air, and a multitude of probiotics you can pick up for free. Bonus points if you get out of the city and into a state park, protected area, or national park where nothing has been altered for thousands of years. You will feel so much better after a dose of “vitamin N.” Go on a nature adventure at your next possible opportunity. I even offer coaching sessions while walking in one of our beautiful parks or on our urban hiking trails if you live locally!

My advice is to find something you love to do and will do regularly. Don’t worry so much about how many calories you’re torching, or your VO2 max, or your 5k time, at least once or twice a week. Just have fun. It will decrease your stress and increase your health, I promise!

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