If we actually stop to think about it, we’ve all probably got at least a couple of things, that we still do out of habit because we did them enough times when we were kids… I know for me, I still struggle to break the habit of wanting to buy a packet of lollies before going on a long roadtrip; just simply because that’s what my parents used to do anytime we went away somewhere on school holidays! Just like the saying goes “old habits die hard”, this can be true for both good and bad habits. So hopefully the more ‘good habits’ we make when we are kids, the more these are likely to carry over into adulthood. When behaviours are repeated regularly they become routines and routines over time form habits. The more you repeat a habit the more permanent and automatic it becomes. And as kids, it’s not only the act of doing it themselves, but watching and taking influence from parents too. Kids notice and absorb so much from their surroundings. If parents are also modelling good habits such as eating well and exercising regularly as part of their routine, their children grow up in an environment thinking that these are just the things you do as part of your everyday life and are more likely to adopt these habits too. Now of course this isn’t a given, and external influences, a combination of our genes and psychology also likely play a part, but surely it’s got to give them a pretty good head start right?
The same can be said for good movement patterns. Practicing a variety of good functional movements from a young age will set children up with good foundations for when they are older. It’s much easier to learn these skills as a kid than it is to undo bad movement patterns or fix reduced mobility later in life. Even simple things like getting upside down! We have definitely noticed that adults in our Crossfit classes who didn’t get up upside down much as kids, or didn’t do gymnastics or other sports when they were younger, often struggle more with handstands and forward rolls and these types of movements as adults. That’s one of the things we love about CrossFit Kids; it’s all about making a wide array of functional movement fun! Functional movements mimic patterns we use in daily life and can be scaled to the age and ability of each child. It encourages fitness through fun rather than a child having to be specifically good at one type of sport. (Because let’s face it, a lot of the time sport won’t be fun for kids if they aren’t good at it!)
This abstract from an Exercise and Children's Health article in The Physician and Sportsmedicine Journal further sums up the additional benefits kids can gain from regular exercise: “Regular exercise is an important health maintenance strategy for children and adolescents: It facilitates weight control, helps strengthen bones, and can improve cardiovascular risk factors. Mental health may also benefit. An active childhood may also lay the groundwork for a lifetime of fitness. So with all the benefits awaiting, why not get out there with your kids and be active together! It’s a win/win for both of you and a great way to spend some quality time together. There are loads of things you could do from simply playing in the backyard, to going for a walk or a bike ride? It doesn’t have to be complicated! Or why not let their creativity flow and even build your own obstacle course from items you find around your home? (Plus it’s a great way to add in some functional movement!) If you’d like some more inspiration stay tuned, as I’m going to share a few more ideas and some of our games that we do in our CrossFit Kids classes that you could try at home! - LJ
References and further reading: CrossFit Kids as a Physical-Education Curriculum: A Pedagogical Perspective By Phil Eich The CrossFit Journal Growing Up CrossFit By Chris Cooper The CrossFit Journal
Exercise and Children's Health
A Little Counseling Can Pay Lasting Dividends
Theodore Ganley , MD, Carl Sherman & Nicholas A. DiNubile , MD (Exercise is Medicine series editor)
Pages 85-92 | Published online: 19 Jun 2015, The Physician and Sportsmedicine Journal