If you ask any child which subjects they enjoy the most at school and the ones in which they get the best marks – the answers will invariably be the same. Just like most adults, children gravitate towards doing the things they enjoy, procrastinate over the things they don’t like so much, and do their best work when they are happy.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that a reasonable level of physical exercise will maintain a person’s health (physically and mentally) at higher levels for longer. So, even the more academically motivated children will understand that sport is good for them. But you can’t make people enjoy something that they don’t like doing… Or can you?
We are not psychiatrists here at Progressive Sports, neither do we possess Jedi-like mind control skills to make children enjoy sport and exercise. But we do know about the laws of physical-activity attraction. And we believe that the secret lies in simply getting them started.
The science doesn’t lie
Science shows us that any ‘above average’ levels of activity release happiness-generating endorphins and proteins, like BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), into our system. This naturally occurring, completely safe drug relaxes our mind and muscles, and relieves stress throughout our bodies. These influences create positive emotions and generate feelings of happiness.
This is proven science! And it works for everyone!
The issue is that some children (and adults) perceive that they will not enjoy exercise (perhaps due to being pushed too hard in the past, an injury, or simply never finding their ‘thing’) and choose to dislike it. The science strongly suggests that they are wrong – and that they would enjoy it if they tried.
The first step is the hardest
The idea that the first step of any journey is the hardest is actually complete nonsense. Ask any marathon runner which step is easiest – the first or the 50,000th and you’ll see what I mean. But the first step is, nonetheless, the most important – because without that you will never get started.
So, we have come up with some fun ways to help children warm to the ‘idea’ of exercise:
1) Have a destination: if a walk has something interesting and attractive at the end of it – who wouldn’t want to go?
2) Encourage active activities: many activities are actually exercise-in-disguise: from swimming, walking around a zoo or theme park and going ten-pin bowling; through to laser quest games, zorbing or taking the dog for a walk
3) Create a community: doing anything with friends is always fun – cycling, walking, outdoor games, sports clubs, etc
4) Non-competitive sport: by definition ‘sport’ means competition – but, if the idea of winning puts a child off it shouldn’t stop them from being involved – so create non-competitive alternatives
5) Playgrounds and parks: the law of physical-activity attraction works on even the most resistant child – simply being in an active environment ‘with no pressure’ is often all that it takes to start
The key is to try and come up with some sort of physical activity that will get your child started; even if the activity is disguised and not immediately recognised as sport or exercise – if that is what it takes.
Then all you need to do is sit back and let science take its course. Once started, just like Einstein’s various laws of motion, the happiness it generates will motivate them to carry on.