Learn from children

Finding a good rhythm and routine for getting regular exercise has always been a challenge for me, and there are times when that challenge gets significantly tougher. Those times might be when my workload ramps up, or when life events like birthdays, graduations or weddings come into play.

For me, the first quarter of this year has been pretty rough in terms of my work schedule; my home life and meal prep have been thrown off track; and my workout routine has gone out the window.

So as I find myself in a sort of starting over mode, I’m looking for inspiration to jump-start my routines, and I’m watching children.

I have a treadmill in my office, and I’ll admit that I still look at it with dread most days. But that’s not the way the kids who visit here look at it. We have a kid-friendly office, and are regularly visited by children, including my grandsons. Younger kids especially are drawn to the treadmill and love to play on it.

My treadmill has an emergency stop, and the kids love nothing more than getting that treadmill going as fast as their little legs will run, then yanking the stop out, when they giggle as it slows to a stop, then doing it all over again. Even getting zinged off the end of the treadmill—as my 5-year-old grandson did recently, landing on his butt on the floor with a thump and a laugh—is no deterrent.

Likewise, it is kids who constantly push me to play outside, to go to the park, or to dance in my bedroom.

What is it about kids and moving their bodies? Adults frequently joke around that we’d love to have some of their energy as children bounce around. But what if what they have is joy in movement, not just energy?

When I first started working out, dancing in my bedroom behind closed doors was my go-to workout, because it was exercise I could do at home, without equipment, and because it is fun to dance. As I’ve progressed I’ve added all sorts of activities. I’ve tried yoga, Zumba, Insanity and other workout classes. I’ve run and walked on a treadmill and on the track. I’ve gone to a rock climbing gym. I’ve lifted weights at the gym and at home. My aim in this “throw spaghetti at the wall” approach is to see what sticks, because those are the things I figure I’ll keep on doing. The reason I’ll keep doing them is because they are fun.

Still, my adult mind is constantly trying to turn working out into a chore. Not only that, but into a heinous chore that I want to avoid, one of those chores like washing dishes or laundry that just never end.

So this week, just to shake myself up, I jumped on the treadmill and played around with it. I walked backwards and sideways and almost fell off. I went too fast and had to pull the emergency stop so I didn’t get dumped off the end of the thing. I put the incline all the way up just to see how hard it would be to walk up that steep treadmill hill. In short, I played with my treadmill. (I even tried a couple of dance moves like I saw on a youtube video where this guy did a super-cool dance routine on a treadmill. Let’s just say my version was far from graceful and could have landed me in a hospital, and it didn’t take me too long to give up on that idea. Maybe another day. Anyhoo.)

I also enjoy challenges that involve other people, like step challenges or going for a hike with somebody, or trying to do burpees every day for a month. Most recently I accomplished an epic fail on that last one, but I’ll persist with challenges like that because they help me get moving.

And in the end, that’s really the goal: to get moving. It doesn’t really matter what I do to get moving, as long as I continue to to those things most days, for the rest of my life. Weight lifting sessions at the gym are just as good as carrying 50 boxes of books because I’m moving. Playing basketball with my grandsons is just as good as running on a treadmill or track. Dancing in my bedroom is just as good as going to a Zumba class.

Children are very good at finding ways to play no matter what they are doing. They are awesome at finding ways to move their bodies around even when adults would swear it is impossible. Kids know how to have fun moving their bodies instinctively, and and they don’t have much concept of “exercise” until they get older. Sounds perfect! See you on the playground. I’ll be the one playing, not sitting on the bench watching the kids play.

What’s the most fun thing you do to work out? You can reach me at 505-286-1212 or leota@lobo.net, or on Facebook in my group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.