Be Like a Kid: Making Exercise Fun Again

Chris Freytag by Chris Freytag | March 16th, 2011 | 24 Comments
topic: Family Health, Fitness, Health & Wellness

Kids Outside Jumping

If you’re trying to add more activity and movement to your life, one place to look for inspiration is your children. When we were kids, we never said, “I have to go exercise.” We just wanted to play and move. Here are four things about being active and healthy that you can learn from kids:

1. Life is a game.

Have you ever watched kids play on the playground? They come up with constant ways to make things into a game and more fun. They run, jump, climb and swing their arms — and not because they think it’s good for their waistlines or hearts, but because they are having a blast! Their imagination and creativity is endless.

Exercise and movement doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be as fun as you make it. Even doing the laundry can be fun if you put on some jamming music and dance around as you fold!

Try it out: Play with your kids on the playground sometime and just move for the fun of it. Or try a dance class, go rock climbing or toss a Frisbee.

2. Find a playmate.

Kids can be much better at making friends than adults. Children are drawn to other children. Any kid on the playground becomes a potential “running around” mate.

Learn from this by taking some initiative and asking someone you know to exercise with you. Maybe your neighbor would love to take a walk with you, or your colleague in the next cubicle would be interested in hitting the gym with you over your lunch hour. Seek out partners in your quest for good health. It will keep you accountable and could be more fun. Even your dog can be a great workout buddy!

3. Get outdoors.

Kids thrive outside. They welcome the outside world like it’s an adventure, a world to explore. When my kids were young, we used to spend a lot of time in the spring and summer at the local park or just on our driveway playing four square and hopscotch. Now that my kids are older, we aren’t on the playground as much, but we still spend a lot of time outside playing sports, riding bikes or rollerblading. My husband and I try to walk every night in the warmer months. Being outdoors can be a great motivator and can change up your routine in just the right way!

4. “I can’t” is not an option.

In their own minds (as the saying goes), kids are “kings of the world.” They don’t have 30 years of self-doubt built up, and most of them believe they can do anything. They aren’t afraid to try something new because they don’t have “qualifications” or “experience.” And here’s the real kicker: When kids fall/fail, they get right back up and try again. Ever watched a child try to climb a tree or ride a bike without training wheels? Many of them will keep going at it until they master it. Very seldom will you see a kid never get on a bike again because they fell down once.

We adults shy away from things we aren’t good at for fear that we’ll embarrass ourselves. Embrace your inner child and try new things. Take on a new sport or sign up for that new class. As I always say, “It’s not about perfection. It’s about progress!”

Comments

  1. Chris, I LOVE this post! I added a link to it on our site.
    I’ve always felt there ought to be adult playgrounds with adult sized swings and jungle gyms where adults can play like kids. The need for fresh air and exercise doesn’t stop as we get older, if anything it greatly increases. Walking is good, dancing is better, but we need more opportunities to stretch and keep our upper bodies strong. Throw a ball or a frisbee around. Golf, and even frisbee golf, can help — and, of course, yoga and tai chi. Old age is lot easier and a lot more fun if we can go through it with a strong healthy body.

    Jane from ministairsteppers.com | July 26th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  2. Boy do I hate to go to the gym but I do a lot of these same types of things for my exercise, love throwing the frisbee. Just going for a walk in the woods is great exercise also.
    It is very true that if you make it fun and exciting there will be better results.
    plus I don’t pay for the gym membership anymore.

    Rob | July 30th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. This is so well written and absolutely true! Half the time we don’t do a sport or activity is because we think we will make a fool out of ourselves whereas kids just get out there and don’t worry about how they look. Picking a sport you love to play will make exercising far more bearable. For me, I love hockey and take it over the gym any day!

    Belly Fat Loss | August 1st, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. Honestly, I will be agreeing with Rob in the post above. I hate working out, and never, ever want to do it. Genius blog post though, working out like a kid. Do fun things, with someone, and don’t think of it as working out. Chase the fun, and enjoy the physical benefits. Great spin to trick your mind.

    Ryan | August 4th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  5. I’ve worked out for more than 25 years. When I was in college I worked out with a roommate, when I got married I worked out with my wife (after 13 years of prodding). In the meantime, I exercised with my neighbor.

    For those that aren’t as determined, but want it badly, it’s critical to have a workout buddy. The constant push and creativity that comes out of working out with someone else is invaluable, especially in the first 30-90 days to develop a habit. Great article and a wonderful blog.

    Chris the excessive sweating guy | August 9th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  6. i believe the hardest part of actually exercising is the motivation! That’s what puts me down most of the time. i work out for a month straight and then i lose motivation. My wife is not very active and my workout partner works nights now so i just start “forgetting” to exercise! i gotta work on something better to get more motivate to start looking like i did 10 years ago when i was actually active.

    elvis | August 14th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  7. Like the article. Something I found that worked pretty well (when I actually had the time) was joining an organized sport; it was a blast playing basketball again like I did in high school; wasn’t that long ago that I was…I’m 25.

    I find that sports are better than trying to workout, just pick a sport that you like and go for it even if you’re not that good at it.

    face treatment | August 16th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  8. Great idea as we tend to get so much more serious as we get older. Good idea to have fun with fresh fruit and other tasty natural foods along with the exercise.

    Julie

    Julie | September 1st, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  9. I can’t stand exercising in the gym. Tread mills turn me into a clock watcher. I like to run outdoors for exercise, even in the winter. All I need is shoes and shorts and (gasp!) NO mp3 player! I set my own pace and enjoy!

    Gary | September 11th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  10. You make some great points in your post. It’s amazing how much energy my kids can expend, but I find I do get much more exercise when I’m around them. At least having kids gives me a better excuse to get out to the park more, it’ll be a habit to continue after they grow up.

    Casey @ Self Motivation Strategies | September 22nd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  11. It is great that you are encouraging people to have their kids exercise. I think there is too many kids sitting in front of the TV instead of outside running and playing.

    lmp | October 23rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  12. I just love to do exercise. I don’t go to the gym. I stay at home, do stretching, treadmill, and play basketball. Playing sports is my greatest form of exercise because I tend to enjoy doing physical activities outdoor!!!!!!

    Xelina | October 27th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  13. I Totally agree with making exercise fun. But i also agree in implementing these into our daily routine. One great example of this that i saw was a set of stairs down into a trail station and the stairs were piano keys which made a sound. In the long run people were using these stairs more than they were using the escalator right besides these stairs. Will power is the name of the game… if your gonna use something like Bowflex or Crazy Fit Machine. Your gonna fry out… MAKE IT FUN!

    Diane Zinger | November 17th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  14. Exercise most definitely needs to be fun – I think that is the missing element from the fitness regiments of many people, especially people who are trying to lose weight. So then, without the fun aspect, they don’t stick to exercise and don’t achieve their goals. Make exercise fun should be number one in anyone’s weight loss endeavor.

    Fitness Rebounder | February 11th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  15. I enjoyed and agree with this post. Exercise should be fun. I enjoy walking and just recently saw some dance classes being taught at at continuing ed class. I think I will enjoy that also. Truly if we were having fun like kids do when they play, exercise would not be so difficult to do.

    Crystal | February 17th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  16. Great post. I always wonder why we consider running, jumping, and climbing so much fun as children and then begin to view it as a chore as we age. Remembering the fun of play is a great start to increasing a persons fitness level.

    Cornelius Chiropractor | February 22nd, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  17. It would be nice if they had adult sized playgrounds but since they don’t (at least near me) I do use the gym. What helps me is finding a class that I really enjoy (yoga) and making a couple of friends who expect to see you there. That’s a motivator for me.

    Charlie B | March 18th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  18. Hey Chris,
    great post and I agree totally. Personally I love going to the beach as swimming is such a great all round excercise and the kids can’t seem to get enough. After a day at the beach they also seem eager to go to bed on time so I know they have had their fill of exercise :-)

    Kathleen | April 25th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  19. Hi Chris,

    I totally agree, exercise most definitely needs to be fun. I think that its missing from the fitness regiments of many gyms, trainers and health professionals. Its better to get into action and have fun then do nothing because your bored of the same routines especially when trying to lose weight.

    Great Post!!

    Chiropractor Norwood | September 27th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  20. Live young to feel young. The healthier and happier you are when you live like a kid. Do what kids do because their activities can serve as exercises. The great thing is that, you could exercise while having fun.

    Matt Bansberg | October 5th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  21. Hi! Thanks for your great post! It’s good to have a reminder that we should be like kids and just have fun going outdoors and playing. Sometimes, I do throw around a frisbee or football with friends and I forget that I AM working out. I’m always looking for new ideas and motivation to get me going again. Currently, I am hoping to get an exercise buddy at my level.

    Nessie | October 29th, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  22. These are wonderful suggestions to make exercise fun for kids. The last heading was very motivational. Thanks for the share.

    David Wells | October 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  23. Thanks for sharing amazing suggestions mate. Eating healthy diet and regular workout are so important for maintaining fitness level.

    Health club Tacoma | December 5th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  24. It is great that you are encouraging people to have their kids exercise. I think there are too many kids sitting in front of the TV instead of outside running and playing.

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