The way you’re looking at physical activity may be holding you back

The way you’re looking at physical activity may be holding you back

We know that as parents we can have a big impact on how much our kids move. We can be positive role models by controlling our own screentime. We can support our kids by signing them up for programs and sports and cheering them on. But how much are we moving our own bodies? For many of us, it seems the answer is not as much as we would want to.

In 2017, Stats Canada reported that “only 15% of Canadian adults meet the current guideline of 150 minutes of MVPA [Editor’s note: MVPA is moderate to vigorous physical activity] per week, and two studies have reported that Canadian adults with children are less active than those without children.”

Our kids can sometimes be the excuse we use to justify our not moving more. And if we have a complicated relationship with physical activity to begin with, the problem gets compounded.

If you’re not as active as you’d like to be, though, it could be the way you’re looking at physical activity that’s holding you back, rather than the actual activity itself.

Here’s a quick way to check if this is true for you. Fill in the blank:

“When it comes to my physical activity I feel ___________.”

You could have used any number of words there, including:

  • overwhelmed
  • excited
  • hopeful
  • hopeless
  • stuck



No matter your response, the way you fill in that blank is your perspective; it’s the way you look at your physical activity.

And the thing about perspectives is, there isn’t just one that is true.

Say you grew up believing the thought, “I’m not coordinated.” As you move through life with that belief, you’ll find tons of evidence to support it. Every time you knock something over, trip, strikeout, or feel awkward dancing, you reinforce that belief.

Imagine taking the opposite perspective: “I’m very coordinated.” Suddenly, you start finding evidence to support that statement. Every time you jump over a puddle, run up the stairs, and manoeuvre past your child’s toys strewn on the ground, you’re proving to yourself that you’re very coordinated indeed.

What would you try if you felt that you “could” as opposed to “couldn’t”? What would it add to your life to believe that being active is for you? That being active is your right and privilege as a human being? That you can claim your right to move your body without letting any of these old limiting beliefs and stories from your past (most likely your childhood) stop you?

And with that new way of looking at things, what can you give to your children?

Consider the statement at the top of this article and try filling that blank with 10 responses. Find the one that most resonates with you and try on how it would feel to make decisions from that new way of looking at things.

For example, if you’re excited about your physical activity, what actions might you take? If you’re grateful for your physical activity, what actions might you take?

  • Start walking instead of always driving?
  • Stretch while watching TV?
  • Go for walks after dinner?
  • Play tag?
  • Run through a sprinkler?
  • Swim in the lake?
  • Try new things?
  • Encourage your kids to do all these things with you?

Imagine that by changing your perspective you saved your child and even your future grandchildren from growing up feeling stuck about their own physical activity.

It’s time to let go of any shame you may have around moving or about how your body looks. All bodies deserve to move.

Embrace a new way of looking at things and you’ll be amazed at how new actions follow.

Commit to yourself to say yes to incorporating more movement into your life and no to old thoughts that are holding you back. Come up with a list of specific things you will do (like dance before breakfast) and specific things you won’t do anymore (like sit on the sidelines when you really want to join in and play).

There is a world of possibility for both you and your kids on the other side of that commitment. So do it.

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