Remember how you felt as a child when you were jumping rope, playing tag with friends, riding your bike perhaps or running races in your gym class? If you’re a Gen X parent, much of your childhood was spent playing games and doing things outside. Millennial and younger parents also share memories of the games and physical activities they engaged in as kids. Moving our bodies often wasn’t born of an active choice to exercise, it was just something we did for fun.
So, why did that change for so many of us as we became adults and (maybe) arents ourselves?
Life often demands us to grow up and conform to societal norms, leaving little room for our inner child's carefree, imaginative spirit. However, buried within each of us lies a wellspring of joy, creativity and curiosity that, when tapped into, can bring forth numerous joys and health benefits. Embracing and nurturing our inner child rekindles our zest for life and allows us to navigate challenges with a fresh perspective.
But what does that mean? What is the inner child? You may have heard this term but could use more clarity. The inner child is an essential part of an individual's psyche, representing their childlike essence. It encompasses all the experiences and lessons learned during childhood before reaching puberty. This concept is commonly perceived as a semi-autonomous sub-personality that operates below the surface of our conscious mind. It’s like a part of our personality, drawing on our experiences as a child, that lives (often dormant) within our adult self.
But it doesn’t have to be dormant. Drawing on your inner child can bring about positive changes in your life. This part of us is often known for its qualities of innocence, playfulness, creativity, curiosity and a sense of wonder. It's the aspect unencumbered by societal expectations and self-judgment, allowing us to experience life with boundless freedom. Connecting with our inner child can infuse those traits into our lives, leading to a more fulfilling and inspired existence.
It’s about tapping into some of the joy and fun you may have experienced as a child and infusing it into your adult existence and activities.
One great way to tap into your inner child is through exercise. Let’s explore the profound advantages of reconnecting with our inner child and its transformative impact on our well being.
Exercise and the Inner Child
Exercise can transport you back to childhood while providing numerous health benefits. It's like taking a trip down memory lane and getting a fantastic workout simultaneously! Many forms of exercise involve playful movements that resemble the activities we enjoyed as children. Whether dancing, skipping, jumping, or playing sports, these movements can evoke a sense of joy and playfulness, helping you reconnect with your inner child. Many of the games we played as children can be played as a form of exercise as adults, which can invoke fun memories and enjoyment in a way typical forms of adult exercise may not.
Through exercise, you can also cultivate mindfulness and become more attuned to the sensations in your body, enhancing the mind-body connection and bringing a sense of childlike presence to your workout.
Exercise in general is a form of self-expression that enables you to move your body freely without fear of judgment. It's like being a child again, where you can let go, be spontaneous, and fully immerse yourself in the moment without inhibitions. With exercise, you don't have to worry about what others may think; you and your body are moving in harmony.
Here are five childhood activities you can engage in to activate your inner child while enjoying the healthy benefits of physical activity and movement.
Childhood Play as an Adult Workout
Image source: Canva
1. Jumping rope: Remember when you were a kid and all you needed as a jump rope and some space to jump? Or, when you jumped rope with a group of friends, two of them twirling the rope(s) and you jumping in the middle? Jumping rope is a classic childhood activity with a fantastic cardiovascular workout. It improves coordination, agility and endurance with minimal equipment.
Find a suitable jump rope and start with a few minutes of jumping, gradually increasing the duration as your fitness level improves. And, if you can get your friends on board, do some group jumping like when you were kids!
2. Hula hooping: So, how many rounds could you hula hoop when you were a kid? It wasn’t as easy as it looked, but once you had a rhythm going, you were probably unstoppable! Hula hooping is a fun and playful activity that engages your core muscles, improves balance and enhances coordination. Get a hula hoop sized for adults (they’re everywhere from local Five and Below stores to sporting goods stores) and try different techniques like waist hooping, arm hooping or even learning tricks and routines.
3. Outdoor games: Rediscover the joy of outdoor games like tag, capture the flag, bike races, hide-and-seek or playing ball games (H-O-R-S-E, handball, pickleball, etc.) These games provide enjoyable exercise and incorporate agility, speed and strategic thinking elements. Gather friends or family members and have a playful and active day outdoors. You KNOW you want to play freeze-tag with your adult friends!
4. Trampoline jumping: Jumping on a trampoline is an excellent way to have fun while getting a low-impact, high-intensity workout. It helps strengthen muscles, improves cardiovascular health and enhances balance and coordination. Sure, you need access to a trampoline to engage in this fun exercise, but I bet you can find a friend who has a trampoline in their backyard (if you don’t have one yourself). Some fitness centers also offer trampoline workout classes if you need access to a trampoline.
5. Playground workouts: Playgrounds aren't just for children. Many parks have outdoor fitness equipment for adults to exercise and have fun simultaneously. You can try monkey bars for upper body strength, swings for a core workout or climbing structures for improving flexibility and balance. Get creative and design your playground workout routine.
It is important to note that Islam encourages a balanced approach to life, and exercise should be pursued within the framework of maintaining overall well being while considering individual capabilities and limitations. Consulting with healthcare professionals and following safe exercise practices is recommended.
By incorporating regular exercise into their lives, we can fulfill the Islamic teachings of maintaining physical health, promoting discipline, and fostering a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle while bringing out our inner child!
Go ahead – you deserve to have some fun while getting your sweat on!