- Category: Health
- Read Time: 4 Minutes
How many times have you sat around at a gathering of family or friends watching your or someone else’s kids run in circles, roll around on the ground, and just play for hours on end without tiring? There’s probably a 99% chance that you or someone else around you made the statement “I wish I had that much energy!”. I’ve done it, as I am sure almost everyone has. But a few years ago I had a light bulb moment.
The key difference between “kid” and “adult” fitness
My light bulb moment came while at one of those family gatherings as I was sitting in my chair with the other adults watching my cousin-in-law’s children chase each other around like they were on crack. At the time I had a middle-aged client whose main goal was to feel younger and more energetic. Well, someone said something about wanting to bottle the kid’s energy and sell it and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The reason kids are so energetic has a lot to do with their age, but it has more to do with the fact that they play all the time. And they don’t just start out this way; as babies all they did was sleep, eat, and poop (which is pretty close to most of my clients energy levels when they first come to see me).
I realized that these kids had slowly built their endurance over months and years until they could sustain hours of uninterrupted annoyance to their parents.
The function was similar to a traditional exercise routine with the respect to building on past efforts and pushing your physical capabilities, but with kids there is one very important difference. To kids, exercise does not come in the form of lifting weights or running on a treadmill for hours. Instead it is first and foremost a way to have fun, it’s just that their idea of fun happens to be very physically active.
Take a cue from the kids
So what does that mean in respect to how you should exercise? It is simple, make it fun! The saying “time flies when you’re having fun” could not be more true. An hour spent doing your favorite activity seems like it is never long enough whereas an hour on a treadmill in a crowded gym can sometimes seem to take an eternity. But it is not only your perception of time that changes when you are having fun; it is also your perception of physical effort.
For example, if you are a gardener you think nothing of working all day digging and planting, and as you get tired, your excitement for what you are doing pushes you to keep going by convincing yourself that “oh, I am almost done I can do just a little more…”. But when you feel that fatigue during an undesirable exercise, you often think the exact opposite; “oh, I am close enough, I’ll just call it good”.
Now just step back and look at what you like to do that is physical and start adding it in as often as you can. More importantly, start trying new things. Never played racquetball before? Then give it a try. Never tried volleyball before? Then try that or how about, soccer, basketball, dodgeball, kickball, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, swimming, snowboarding, down hill skiing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling, rock climbing, triathlons, cycling, rowing, dancing, or hopscotch! There are millions of different individual and group activities that are great sources of physical activity and are more fun than a traditional gym workout will ever be. And what’s better is that if you get into a sport or activity that you love doing, then training to become better at it (i.e. gym time) becomes more fun as well.
If you don’t take anything else from this article take this; to feel like a kid you have to act like a kid! Play until you fall asleep, then wake up and play some more. It may not give you the energy of a 6 year old but it will definitely make you feel younger than you are now and keep you feeling younger for years to come.