Earlier in the week my daughter was practising her gymnastics moves while I was doing my workout. I helped her a few times with some handstand holds and improved her backbend position – and decided to have a crack myself. My handstands are pretty good – they are something I’ve tried to keep doing throughout my adult life, but my backbends were terrible. (I’m OK with that though, I’m of the view that it’s actually best our spines only move within a fairly small range; we don’t need to have the bendy spines of Olympic gymnasts which often leads to injury). But it got me thinking; as adults – what are we missing from a physical activity standpoint in our lives which as children we aced, on a regular basis? Loads I think. And stuff that we could easily add in – to our walks or our runs daily. We might get the odd funny look from other walkers, but I think it’s worth the risk to gain skills that we’ve either lost or never had. Imagine the feeling of satisfaction that you’d get from adding 10 cartwheels into a walk, or even walking the sobriety line test along a stone wall or doing a few pullups on the local playground bars. Not only satisfaction, but a gain in strength, coordination or balance by doing so, even if it’s just degrees of change every time you go out.
Here are some ideas for you.
Trampolining – I often jump on the tramp with the kids. Proudly I can still flip – but am a little jealous I can’t backflip like my son. Bouncing on the tramp is soooo much fun! It’s exercise without you realising it. (Apologies to women who gave birth naturally).
Swinging on ropes or swings – next time you pass a playground get on a swing – go on! It will leave you breathless and a little dizzy, but will give your vestibular system a workout. Tree ropes are amazing too – so good for your grip strength and core.
Climbing trees – I had to climb my in-laws avocado tree up to the top a while ago to get access to the last avos – it was kind of a challenge and I was surprised. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Pohutukawa’s are usually pretty reliable for climbing in your local park. It’s so funny but we get really weird about this sort of stuff as adults – as in, when you’re adults you don’t do things like that! How crazy is that?
Sprinting – you’ve heard me talk about this before. It helps maintain your spring like ligaments and tendons in top shape, as does jumping below. It’s a short and hugely effective workout, a 10 minute sprinting session is worth an hour or more of walking or jogging.
Jumping – can you still jump? If you can’t it’s only because you stopped! Start with tiny spring jumps, pointing your toes as you take off and landing softly. Do only as many as good form allows – but keeping your knees and ankles together should make it a bullet proof way to start.
Balance – try the beam (side of the road on the edge of the gutter to start with), walking in a straight line with one foot placed right in front of/touching the other or hopping over rocks. Stand on one leg, close your eyes. ACC has access to a new app which some of you will be eligible for – nymbl – it’s a balance trainer, if you can give that a try.
Flexibility – include a couple of reps of “the greatest stretch” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Bwzy9r96cE
before, during or after your walk/run. Make one of your exercise goals to improve your hip flexibility – stretch your hamstrings, quads or glutes a few times a week. Do an ELDOA or two at the end of your days.
Upside down stuff – handstand against the wall, or up against a tree – during your outside activity. Pull yourself up onto the bars at a playground – see if you can get your legs up there (if you can – legend), and then hang from your knees like you did when you were 8!
Pull-ups or Monkey Bars – while you’re on those bars – do some pullups. Or try the monkey bars.
Walking straight up the hill (or volcano) rather than up the path (and maybe roly-poly down)!
Go sideways – we stop doing sideways stuff as adults. Those of you who surf, skate and snowboard are all good – but the rest of us need to use this. Start by side stepping some of your walk. Side lunge, skaters lunge, side to side leaps are all other options. I started learning to skate last summer at the beach and it was incredibly satisfying! Easier on a long board, just like surfing. Paddleboarding is another great option.
Dancing – you can do this during your walks – but you need loud music really and it helps to feel uninhibited. Introduce disco nights at home and have a boogie! I love these at our place, we all get burned out after about half an hour, but they make memories. Even if you’re on your own a good dance leaves you pumped with endorphins.
Sport! Of course, this is the best for all of the above. Ideally it’s a dynamic sport where you are twisting, turning, reaching, jumping, catching, throwing, hitting, sprinting etc. People that continue to ski, climb, play a team sport, even bowl – keep challenging themselves in ways you don’t get the chance to when you don’t play. So pick up the old racket, or whatever tickles your fancy, and go get amongst it.
Let me know how you get on. Would love to hear your feedback on this.