Many adults today struggle to maintain good health and fitness levels. Our exposure to various devices, combined with work pressures, encourages us to lead increasingly sedentary lifestyles. Convenient access to the empty calories of fast food and sugary snacks and drinks further complicates the problem.
Yet this issue doesn’t begin once we reach the cusp of adulthood. Too often, it can be traced even earlier to adolescence and even childhood. Today’s children could be poised to inherit the same unhealthy lifestyles that their parents are fighting to overcome.
Fortunately, a solution is available that doesn’t cost your family anything. Natural movements are a form of exercise that kids can practice right within your home, amid the hardscaping installed by paving services and the greenery surrounding it. They are an excellent and diverse way for the whole family to start counteracting modern living’s health problems.
The fitness decline starts early
You may know overweight people in their student years but threw themselves fully into getting into better shape and are now leading exemplary healthy lifestyles. Such stories are inspiring, but the reverse is far more common.
Our metabolism declines as we age. We’re exposed to more factors that detract from our baseline of physical activity and reduce our inclination to get back on track. These can include technology, junk food, stress, and negative social influences.
However, none of those factors are unique to adults. Where we stress out over work, children feel pressured to achieve in school and form good relationships. They typically enjoy the same access to devices and unhealthy food as their parents.
Worryingly, recent studies have begun to reflect this. The WHO found that globally, a majority of adolescents have demonstrated insufficient physical activity in a study from 2001-2016, with the US having the widest gap at 15%. And separate research published by the AAP gives evidence that this trend starts even earlier, from the ages of 6 to 11.
Such problems don’t just compromise a child’s present, but their future as well. They are more likely to suffer from obesity and chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease. The burden of health-related expenses will also impact their future finances.
Diversity is required
Early negative health trends require considerable effort to overcome. You can ask anyone who has successfully risen to that challenge. This increases the urgency of the issue.
The golden window for positive intervention in your child’s health is while they are still living with you. You choose what’s on the menu, and you can direct their involvement in activities to boost fitness.
Many parents encourage their kids to play a sport to get them off the couch and away from screens. But sports are a limited solution for two main reasons.
First, most sports don’t practice a wide variety of movements. They only focus on specific exercises that help improve performance in that sport. This means that your child’s body is still not being engaged to its full potential. Competitive goals and repetitive strain on the same muscles can also lead to a higher risk of injury.
Second, most sports have a social element built into them. This is especially true of team sports, but individual sports also have a support structure with coaches and trainers. As they grow and transition into adulthood, kids who don’t become varsity players or pro athletes will often lose that social element. It makes the sport a less reliable form of regular exercise.
Natural movement solves these issues
The practice of natural movement offers a simple and reliable solution to these challenges. Unlike most sports, natural movements are diverse. To use a dietary comparison, they are whole grains, while gym exercises and sports training are refined carbs.
They provide more ‘exercise nutrition’ because they invoke a wider range of motion and more muscle groups. Grip, hoist, and fling a heavy rock in your yard, and you’re using more muscles, with a greater variety of motion, than a barbell or kettlebell-based workout.
Natural movements are also fun for kids and adults alike. Walking and running barefoot gives you an added sensory experience. So does climbing a tree and pulling up onto its branches instead of doing a pull-up on a bar.
This sort of workout can be done anytime, anywhere. It’s the perfect exercise not only for your kids but also as a family practice. After all, your kids are going to emulate the example you set.
Make a habit of being physically active at home. Play with your kids while secretly incorporating natural movement exercises into their day. You’ll be able to ensure their long-term health while maintaining your own.