Approach to exercise: 8 lessons from a determined toddler

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?

The Twinkle Diaries
Mums' Days
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Fitness Friday

25 thoughts on “ Approach to exercise: 8 lessons from a determined toddler

  1. Tracey May 11, 2015 / 10:45 am

    What a fabulous take on exercise and getting motivated to do it. I remember the days of being with my son when he was little and learning to walk, run, climb and ride his bike.

    For me, my son is also my motivation. His love of cycling has inspired my husband and me to get on our bikes – literally.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare May 11, 2015 / 9:19 pm

      Thank you. It really is both great fun and completely exhausting with him at the moment. It’s great you have something to enjoy with your son too. I’m looking forwards to both of mine growing up and being able to do lots of great activities as a family.


  2. Helen May 11, 2015 / 2:12 pm

    Oh, I hear you! Rose (15 months old) learned to walk just before her first birthday and everything is a big adventure to her. I wish she’d sit down sometimes, but when we take her to the park to run around and striding out is such a big adventure, you can’t help smiling and joining in with her, running around.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare May 11, 2015 / 9:20 pm

      Yes that says it all – lots of smiles and not much rest! Thanks for your comment.


  3. Eimear May 12, 2015 / 8:58 am

    Great tips! I need to get my ass in gear!! #twinklytuesday


  4. NorthEastFamilyFun (@NEFamilyFun) May 12, 2015 / 9:53 am

    What a fab idea for a post Rachel – I am now wondering what lessons I could learn from my children? I would also add – make exercise fun 😀


    • tenminutesspare May 15, 2015 / 6:34 pm

      Absolutely agree. I think its wonderful that children naturally get so much enjoyment from exercise. If we could all find something that is as much fun to us as experienced by a child it would never be a hardship staying fit!


  5. Caro | The Twinkles Mama May 12, 2015 / 9:07 pm

    These are GREAT tips! I need to get my exercising mojo back from somewhere — and funnily enough I always watch my boys and admire their tenacity! I’ve always done Pilates but need to start moving more! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂 Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Caro |


    • tenminutesspare May 15, 2015 / 6:35 pm

      Thats so lovely that you’ve found it helpful. Watching little ones having fun with whatever physical activity they are engaged in, definitely reminds me that working out should be enjoyable!


  6. Kath S {isitwineoclock} May 14, 2015 / 8:39 pm

    What a lovely post, totally right about finding the time. I’ve done a lot of walking so far this week totalling about 8 miles i think so fingers crossed the fitness is having a good one this week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. tenminutesspare May 14, 2015 / 8:45 pm

    That sounds like a good lot of walking, it’s definitely the easiest thing to do regularly with little ones. I did make it out to my running club tonight but came home at 8 to find my 11 month old still pottering round the living room with his dad!


  8. K @ Eat.Love.Live May 15, 2015 / 12:14 pm

    These are some great tips! I need to start incorporating some excercise back into my life and this has motovated me!
    My nearly 9 month old just started pulling herself into standing position this week. I just want to say slow down!
    K x


    • tenminutesspare May 15, 2015 / 6:36 pm

      Ooh it’ll not be long now if she’s starting to stand! So glad you’ve enjoyed the post and do hope you find the required motivation – I really do know that it can be hard after a long day parenting though!


  9. Alice @ Mums Make Lists May 15, 2015 / 1:42 pm

    Mine a bit older now but definitely find weaving exercise into our everyday life helps me stick to it – I try to run home after school drop off and do bursts of skipping in the kitchen 🙂


    • tenminutesspare May 15, 2015 / 6:39 pm

      Skipping is such a great exercise – and you really don’t need to do much to feel the benefits. I am still a little nervous of it however, due to, ermmm, the insecurity of my pelvic organs!


  10. DrJuliet May 15, 2015 / 3:15 pm

    Super post! Beware the living room plank though, you may find a small child climbing on your back to add to the difficulty or even worse wiggling underneath you so you absolutely can’t collapse for fear of squashed them! I agree, finding a way to fit it and making it enjoyable are so important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare May 15, 2015 / 6:41 pm

      Yes absolutely!! Although they do tend to pick on my husband during his workouts more than me, he always has music on so I think they genuinely believe its playtime, not exercise time!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. doctomum May 15, 2015 / 7:52 pm

    I wish I could be as agile as my toddler – there he goes under the coffee table, then he’s doing the crab, then a backwards roll off the sofa – I remember when I could do the crap and walk along in a crab at the same time…those days are gone, but I take inspiration from your post though. #thelist


  12. Lisa@intotheglade May 16, 2015 / 8:02 am

    Great tips, I need to get back into running. I love seeing toddlers learning their new skills – so cute x #TheList


  13. Hannah Mums' Days May 19, 2015 / 7:56 pm

    Lovely post, Rach! While I’m certainly enjoying exercise at the moment, you definitely won’t find me filled with enthusiasm for it at 3:30 am 😉 Thanks for linking up to #TheList xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare May 19, 2015 / 8:01 pm

      Thanks my dear! I had fun writing it mainly because he is just so cute at the moment, it’s a nice way to remember some of his quirks. And yes the getting up at 3am thing because he’s got stuck standing up tends to make my motivation the next day flag a little!


  14. sherrylyne May 21, 2015 / 7:57 am

    This made me giggle, toddlers are great aren’t they? So much enthusiasm and want to explore, though I can most definitely agree that 3am, (or anytime between 11pm-5am for that matter) are not suitable for these sorts of activities x

    Liked by 1 person

    • tenminutesspare May 21, 2015 / 8:00 am

      Ooh yes after last night I fully agree the nighttime hours should not be for toddler exercise, or even cute baby chat! Glad to have provoked a giggle.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Mummy Melton (@MummyMelton) October 9, 2015 / 12:11 pm

    I love this!! So true as well. There’s so much we can learn from our little ones approach at life. Thanks for linking up with #FitnessFriday

    Liked by 1 person

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