The most important things you can do to ensure your children grow up with the best chances for future physical fitness are:
1. Let your infants crawl as much as possible. Crawling is one of the most necessary elements to develop neuromuscular coordination and proprioception. Do not try to force your child to walk sooner than necessary. They will get up when they’re good and ready. Remember, the vast majority of their future life will be spent sitting down, so let them develop those muscles and coordination skills early and innately.
2. Encourage any natural inclinations for athletic activity, matching your level of encouragement to their personal inclination; do not try to enforce your higher enthusiasm or desire beyond their own. This will lead to resentment, rebellion, and eventual refusal to participate.
- Most children will enjoy sports if given the chance and proper encouragement; minus the unrealistic expectations of adults. But some will absolutely abhor them, simply because they are so dis-inclined of those natural gifts that make anything we do joyful. I never liked math, and avoided studying something that seemed so alien to me, while literature and history was engulfed by my mind. Why is this concept easy to understand while the physical equivalent is somehow so difficult? I was always a good enough athlete that I enjoyed overcompensating for whatever physical gifts I lacked. But most children never will like participating. It will be emotionally painful and physically uncomfortable. That’s reality, as is occasionally failing at things and not doing well at more things. Understand that creating the right environment using yourself as an early role model is no different that a child growing up watching their parents read a lot. Those children are far more likely to become readers themselves, though they are unlikely to ever become Ernest Hemingway.
3. Be as fit as possible, yourself, and be seen enjoying fitness related activities as your children grow up. You want to maximize your chances of having an overweight child who develops adult onset diabetes at 11 years? Be unfit and disdainful of physical activities yourself.
4. You will never be able to eliminate junk food completely, so be wise. “Junk” foods are treats, and should not be allowed in uncontrolled portions. Don’t leave them around in easy access. A treat isn’t a treat if it’s normally accessible.
The next post will take us into the ages most commonly found in gyms and health clubs.