Aideen Glynn’s weekly column as published in the Waterford News & Star Well! magazine
THE human body is designed to move. It is made up of various joints and hinges that need to move in order to stay flexible. These complex joints become tired and achy when they aren’t used as designed and in the same way a car needs a jump start if it’s left idle, neglected and ignored for a while, the human body reacts the same way to a period of inaction.
That’s why we exercise. That’s why we sign our kids up for endless amounts of after school classes such as ballet, swimming, football and tennis. So they can move as their bodies are designed to do. But all this planned exercise is very structured, organised and deliberate isn’t it? Where is the spontaneity? Where is the impulsiveness and fun? And not only in our children’s lives either. We have planned trips to the gym, planned exercise classes and scheduled organised activities. Apart from walking to the car or running up and down the stairs for something you’ve forgotten by the time you’ve arrived there, any other type of movement is planned in advance.
Movement is one of the first and most important ways that young babies and toddlers explore their surroundings. They learn about the world around them and figure out their place in the grand scheme of things. They do it naturally, spontaneously and without thinking. It’s only as they grow older that the natural movement slows down and becomes more of an effort. Unfortunately that is a trait that follows into adulthood for many of us.
I used to go the gym at the unholy hour of 6am. To be honest the only reason I would get up at this hour was to satisfy the needs of my teenage son. His passion and enthusiasm for exercise and fitness was astounding, still is to be fair, and to support him and encourage him we joined the gym together and spent three mornings a week there before work and school. For me it was torture. For him it was heaven. But I wasn’t alone in my misery. There were many other poor souls like myself who looked shattered, depressed and obviously longed to be anywhere else. Despite the best efforts of the trainers, these early morning training session didn’t make me fit, they made me tired and miserable. So when the time came for renewal I skipped merrily away and took up outdoor running instead. Now I run up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift, I get off the bus a stop earlier and I go for a run when I can. It is not structured, planned activity and my body is thanking me for it.
Exercise has been presented lately as a necessary evil, a way to lose weight and an activity to plan. But, I believe that it should be a celebration of what your body can do not a punishment for what you ate. Planned classes are great but just moving naturally is even better. Exercise is a privilege not a chore and movement in itself is a form of medication. Anytime you move it makes your brain sharper, your mind clearer and your mood better. It is a form of self-care. Feeling like it is something else to plan takes the good out of it to a certain extent. So let’s bring it back to basics. Movement 101. Walk the dog, walk to the shops, sweep the leaves in the garden. Just move and do it over and over again until it becomes part of who you are. Encourage the kids to do the same. Just move your body. Somehow, some way. Everyday… ssh Mum’s the Word.
Parenting Fail of the Week
Providing unsolicited parenting advice to fellow parents is ill advised at best and brave at worst. Please present your framed and certified Parent of the Year Award before offering any words of wisdom, any nuggets of knowledge or titbits of advice. Just in case there is any doubt about your credentials.
Aideen’s Parenting Hacks
Your baby bag may be packed full to the brim with supplies for the tiny baby but what about supplies for you too? There will come a time, especially when the baby starts solid food that the mess will extend from baby’s clothing onto yours and you better be prepared. Nobody will ever tell you that you have baby dribble down your back or crushed carrot on your shoulder, so come prepared and make room in that bag for space for a change for you too. And maybe a mirror so you can spot the damage.