My baby has just turned 11 months. Watching him on his determined quest to walk has reminded me of some important considerations about the way we approach exercise as adults.
His determination and dedication are inspirational. Goal setting and risk assessment require a little work.
Here are 4 things he has reminded me about physical fitness:
1. Find something that generates enthusiasm:
He just loves to walk. It might be hard work but he will practice at every opportunity. This is true about my approach to fitness too. I love to run so enthusiasm is a major motivating factor. I quite enjoy Pilates but primarily do it because it’s good for me. Both reasons are motivating factors, but I spend much more time running. Finding an activity that makes you enthusiastic will help you prioritise it when time is pressured.
2. Fit it into your everyday life:
Walking is one of the easiest exercises to fit into everyday life. Well, perhaps not for a wannabe toddler, but it is once you’ve mastered it as an adult. The NHS advices 2 hours 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise per week (for adults aged 18-64). Fast walking counts as aerobic activity. I particularly like the advice that to gauge if you’re working hard enough you should be able to talk but not sing a song… I’ll rember that next time Sunflower requests a reduction of ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ while I’m pushing the pushchair.
I digress. My newbie toddler has beautifully demonstrated how to fit his chosen exercise into everyday life. He walks as soon as he is awake in his cot. He potters around the furniture. In the bath. In his cot again at night (I definitely don’t advocate getting up at 3am in order to demonstrate your commitment to exercise). On a more sensible note whether it is walking, gardening, workouts with your baby or planks in the living room, choosing something that fits with your daily routine is helpful when life is busy.
3. Fun triumps over style:
His wobby gait would not win him any awards for elegance. But does he care? He has so much fun with his delighted totter. I suppose this part of the message of the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign. It doesn’t matter what we look like during a workout, having fun is the key.
4. Get help from others:
He will grab the hand of any passerby. He can toddle between bits of furniture but it’s so much more fun to drag someone with him. I’ve recently rejoined my running group, after an 18-month baby-related absence. I enjoy the sociability and find the group setting incredibly motivating.
Now much as my 11 month old is a genius for imparting all this wisdom about exercise. Here are a few points he might need to work on:
1. Set yourself achievable goals:
Yes darling, I know you might very badly want to climb into the bath by yourself. No matter how often you try it isn’t going to happen. Wait until you’re a little older. This currently applies to me. One day I’d love to run a marathon. Right now I couldn’t do it. Just as he clings tenaciously to the hope of getting into the bath unaided (a goal that he will achieve in time). I too believe I will run a marathon. In the meantime we both need more appropriate short term goals.
2. Make sure you get some rest:
Again to reiterate point 2 above; If like my gorgeous boy you’re getting up at 3am to workout, stop it. Relax a little. Rest and kindness to your body are helpful too.
3. Mix it up a little:
After my 40th circuit round the living room with him I quite fancy a change of scenery. Or adult company. Or failing that just a cup of coffee. Whilst it is admirable to work conscientiously towards a goal, variety is important too. Ideally adults should be doing muscle strengthening exercises on two or more days a week in addition to aerobic exercise.
4. Try to learn from mistakes:
I admire his persistence. It is an important trait to achieving exercise related goals. However, my little one, you have now bumped your head ten times on the edge of that table. Improve your co-ordination then try again. Similarly, I have tried multiple times to complete the dreaded Pilates ‘teaser’. I’ve put my attempts to one side for now. I need to work more on my core strength, co-ordination and balence. If a goal is out of reach, try to find a new way of approaching it, or work on some different skills.
So there you are 8 fitness related lessons from my determind toddler.
He is so delighted by this new adventure I can’t help but share some of his enthusiasm. In fact I would quite like to apply a toddler’s infectious zest for learning and taking on new challenges to all aspects of life.
However whilst I love and admire his enthusiastic totter, right now it would be a little more restful if he sat down occasionally. So when I’m not waxing lyrical about my inspiring boy you will find me in the kitchen sneaking a coffee after his morning living room circuits.
As always I do enjoy reading your comments. Have you found any unusual sources of fitness inspiration?