Be A Kid Again

By Kimberly Dawn Neumann

July 7, 2005

Think “working out” has to mean work? Ditch that notion and return to your roots. No matter what your body type, you can glean fitness benefits from frolicking like an eight year old. And the best part? You might have fun in the process.

“Most adults think they need to act their age and stop playing because they are now grown up,” says exercise physiologist Tim Moore, Ph.D. “However, play is actually a great form of physical activity, for kids and for adults.”

What play can do is introduce in a non-threatening way what Moore calls the “ABCs of Fitness” — Agility, Balance and Coordination. These core components, once developed, can allow you to transition into any activities you choose. “We’ve noticed that a person’s athletic identity develops as a child, and their experiences with sports then can affect how they view fitness as an adult. For example, the kid that did well in phys ed in school is likely to be the one that grows up and thinks, ‘Maybe I’d like to try a Tae Bo class for fun.’” Therefore, if you missed that impulse (or were always the last one picked for the team), Moore suggests going back and redeveloping your fitness persona. Do that by participating in activities that train your ABCs. This will lead you toward athletic endeavors you can enjoy now that you’re a big kid.

What’s more, if you have a family, involving them in your fitness quest can increase your chance of success. “The social support you get from having your children participate in your fitness program is a mutual process. You can help them establish lifetime physical activity habits, and they can help you develop a missing ingredient in your life.”

And let’s not forget the fat-burning quotient. Incinerating calories is child’s play when you take on challenges like skipping rope, throwing a Frisbee, and skateboarding. Need some ideas?

Set up an obstacle course in your backyard or at a playground. Try crawling through barrels, tumbling on the grass, walking a balance beam, or bounding over hurdles.

Hula hoop (it’s a great waist toner too).

Play on the swings or hang on the bars.

Pull out a pair of 4-wheeled rollerskates and skate back to the 70s.

Imitate an animal. Play leap frog, gallop like a horse, charge like a bull. You’ll be laughing so hard you won’t know you’re working out.

Remember the three-legged race? Or how about the wheelbarrow race? Sack race? Clothes race?

Climb a tree. Better yet, climb a tree and kiss your crush in a tree fort.

“Use your imagination and choose an activity you enjoy. Use it as a reward for all your hard work, don’t overdo it, refrain from risky activities, and don’t worry about time,” says Moore. “You’ll be surprised at how much fun fitness can be when you let yourself be a kid again.”

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