Movement is as vital to our health and well being as food. But, just like there’s junk food, there’s also junk movement. Here are seven ways to get your kids the movement nutrients they need.
1. Move to improve how you feel not how you look. Our culture has an unhealthy relationship with exercise. Most fitness programs use before and after pictures to extol their benefits. If our exercise is giving us the appearance we want, we ignore signals from our body (aches and pains, insomnia, incontinence, constant stress etc.) that there might be something missing from our movement diet.
Let’s raise a generation of kids that act from somewhere deep within their body and soul. Teach them to have eyes to see that beauty, health and vitality flow from the inside out. Show them that we can evaluate our health by listening to our body not by looking at it in a mirror. Mamas, let’s stop talking about our own results in terms of a scale or a dress size.
2. Weave movement into the fabric of your days. We can’t get all of our movement nutrients in one 30-minute exercise session a day. We have to move all day long. Kids are naturally good at this. They don’t like chairs and are happy to sit on the floor. They run, skip, hop and twirl all day long.
Follow their lead. Be careful not stifle their natural inclinations to move. In fact, try to join them. We can all use more twirling in our life.
3. Work on your own alignment. Healthy alignment is a very precise thing. Our body functions optimally when our bones are in a specific relationship to each other. And, children learn alignment habits from their parents!
Learn how to evaluate your own alignment, then constantly work to improve it. (If you need an alignment primer, sign up for my FREE Barefoot Movement Camp!)
4. Go barefoot. Shoes weaken the intrinsic foot muscles and hinder the development of a healthy gait pattern. Encourage your kids to spend as much time in bare feet as possible.
5. Squat…a lot. Deep squatting in healthy alignment (vertical shins and untucked tailbone!) is essential to the health of our knees, hips and pelvic floor. While most adults rarely squat, toddlers do it all the time. Restore your own ability to squat. (Start by stretching your tight calves.) And, encourage your kids to squat several times a day.
6. Walk…a couple miles a day. There are few things that will improve the health of the body, mind and spirit like a good walk. And family walks are an excellent bonding opportunity. As soon as your baby begins to walk, take them outside for a stroll. Then, slowly lengthen the distance of your walks. Encourage your older kids to walk by playing music or games as you go.
7. Play on the monkey bars. We should all be strong enough to hold our own body weight from the arms. Encourage your children to develop this strength. And why not, hang with them. As you hang, try to keep the shoulders away from your ears, the ribs from thrusting forward and the legs in line with the torso.
With just a little more mindfulness, you and your kids can easily get the movement nutrients your bodies crave!