*guest blog from Joanne Dowds Miscp*
My 4 yr nephew does a park run on a sat morning. He gets up with his dad and trots around 2k usually by the time I am stirring out of bed. It takes him just over 15 minutes, he stops for a few rests on the way round, he doesn’t wear any fancy kit, he doesn’t mind what he eats before hand, his breakfast is the regular weetabix, he does some vigorous arm flapping as a warm up and off he goes. He stops when he needs to, there is no shame real or imagined in having a rest at 4yrs old, he doesn’t care what place he comes. He likes it, he likes running with other kids, yes he likes to compete but he is under no pressure to perform. This is entirely his choice. There is absolutely no getting him to do anything he doesn’t enjoy. I know this as the only way I get a hug is by telling him we are practising rugby tackles.
There is a lot to be learnt from children and their attitude to everything, including exercise, I really admire the way they gravitate to things they enjoy. They get pure pleasure from the moment they are in; there is little or no wait for love and giggles if they are allowed to make that choice. As many parents of young children will tell you, trying to keep up with them is exhausting; you can not get them to stay still. They don’t care if it’s good for them, if it make them look good, if it’s the current exercise trend. So Cilly likes to run, therefore he runs. He does not like green foods so they get hidden under a few spoonfuls of gravy. But he is not stupid he can find the smallest slice of broccoli and reject it with a disappointing glare and a ‘yucky’. The more interesting question I suppose is why he likes to run, he is a 4yr old, he has lots of energy, but he also is from a fairly energetic family. His dad runs regularly, so Cilly would be used to seeing him heading out a couple of times a week, he has watched his dad, aunties and uncles race a couple of times a year (by the by he gets seriously miffed if you miss the high five on the way past). So is it nature or nuture? I don’t know, I’m not sure it matters. His honesty in asking and then doing what he loves, with the people that mean the most to him, is one of the many, many things that I admire about him.
If I ever had that innocent glee, I definitely lost it for a couple of decades. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that exercise can be boring and difficult and hard and require discipline. Fun has crept back slowly, hesitantly and mainly through my love of interruptive dance! Messing aside, the confidence that comes through moving and knowledge of just how much my body can handle is profound and ripples through all aspects of life, work, family, relationships. There is a lot to be said to finding the joy in movement, jumping to see how high, running to see how fast, focusing on that feeling of accomplishment rather than competition.
So do something you love, be with those who support you, find your people. Feel the joy in childlike things. Dance if you want to. Move, because you enjoy it and reap the benefits.