They like to run, jump, play, and spin. They’d always be on the go if we let them. This desire to move their bodies is purely driven by a carefree sense of fun and adventure. It’s not until later in life that movement becomes synonymous with exercise and kids (who are probably now teenagers) start moving their bodies deliberately and for ulterior motives. Calorie burn, muscle toning, and strength building perhaps.
It seems as we age we lose a lot of the intuition we are born with. Especially surrounding food and exercise.
Kids are fairly self-regulating. They eat when they’re hungry and strop when they’re full. They run when they want and stop when they’re tired. Nothing is forced. Nothing is guilt induced.
In a perfect world we’d be able to maintain this relationship with exercise forever. Unfortunately things change. And for some, the process is expedited.
Recently I’ve noticed a trend. Kids being pushed into things like races, sports, and planned daily exercise regimen by their fitness obsessed parents. It’s one thing to instill healthy habits in your kids but another thing entirely to force them to move their bodies past the point of it being enjoyable.
In my own life, I was encouraged to go on walks and bike rides even when I didn’t want to and even though I’d complain the entire time. Eventually I started liking activity and started to fit in with my active family, but I often wonder what my relationship with exercise would be if I was able to come to it in my own time.
I see young kids (girls especially) being pushed into ballet, taken for 3 hour bike rides, and having weekends scheduled long in advance filled with mini triathlons, soccer tournaments, and family 5Ks. Again, I’m not saying being active as a family is a bad thing. It’s a great way to bond, it’s a good way for parents to get their own fitness in, and it can be fun! But that last part is what I think some families are losing…the essence of FUN.
As soon as your kid stops enjoying exercise, I think it’s time to back off and allow them to listen to their bodies. It’s bad enough they’ll be bombarded with “push through it” mantras regarding exercise when they’re older, why start that mentality at a younger age than it needs to happen?
I guess I have just been reflecting a lot lately on my own experience with exercise in my life and what things could have contributed to my eventual addiction to it. Obviously no one is to blame, but it just gives me something to think about. It definitely gives me a heightened sense of awareness on it happening to others.
Not everyone gets into health and fitness. For some people, it becomes a lifestyle and for others it’s just another box to check off the list of life. But I think every person should get to decide for themselves, in their own time, how exercise will fit into their lives.
Seeing kids under 10 in my gym is so disheartening and leads me to believe they’re heading down a path of self-destruction. There’s a fine line between teaching kids about exercise and pushing them too far with it. I give parents a lot of credit for taking on that responsibility and for having to figure things out as they go along. It’s a burden I don’t think I could handle given my own history.
I urge you, if there are kids in your own like or if you think you have the potential to influence children in regards to fitness or exercise…let movement come naturally. Let kids be carefree and guiltless for as long as they can. I for one wish I hadn’t ‘grown up’ so fast.
Just some thinking out loud. Hope you don’t mind! 🙂
Was your relationship with exercise influenced by your childhood?
Have you noticed a trend in kids being pushed into exercise or sports?
Would you change anything about the messages you received about fitness when you were younger?
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