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Adopting Lifelong Habits

Adopting Lifelong Habits

“When I Was Young We Walked Uphill Both Ways!”

I am from upstate New York, so this statement was fairly believable when my grandfather (dressed in a button down, khakis, loafers, cane, and pipe) used to say it. Think back to the stories your family has told you…









Now, how has your life changed from the rise of electronics and cable (1979)? This was before we started counting calories, or needed to, and probably a sad reflection for scientists who feel we have missed opportunities measuring caloric expenditure. We did not have today’s technology to compare calories burned in the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s with today’s youth. When I mention caloric expenditure, I am talking about calories used for walking/biking to school, the store, or friend’s houses. Back before we used cars or public transportation to do most chores.

Are you more inactive today than 30 years ago? Now consider the inactivity of other people’s lives: your parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, and kids. Are there people in your life who have adopted lifelong exercise/activity habits? What exercises do they do, and what do you do? Maybe we need to define lifelong exercise habits?

How Can Fitness Professionals Help?

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Fitness Professionals are problem solvers. We give people the tools and support to follow through with their goals, but ultimately, the individual determines the result. The better exercise habits people have as youth, the healthier their adult lifestyle will be. Bottom line, the exercise should be every day and at least 30 minutes. But what are lifestyle sports?

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When I think about lifelong exercise habits, I think back to my senior year in P.E. class where we learned lifestyle sports like cross country skiing, golf, bowling, horseback riding, hiking, etc. I have friends who experienced similar P.E. programs and seem to have continued skiing, bowling, playing tennis, or golf. For the most part, these are low impact and social sports. They are also sports that are found in the business world. We should not depend on P.E. programs to promote this, but here is what we can do:

Provide Tools:

  1. Introduce youth to recreational activities. Have your fitness center host a youth night once a month that includes a different lifestyle sport.
  2. Show them how to use the equipment, use proper form and etiquette. Print a 1 page handout on form for each participant and move around the group giving each individual attention.

Provide Support/Coach:

  1. Support their goals. Ask them which lifestyle sport they have enjoyed most. Suggest they get a group of friends together on the weekends to partake in that particular activity.
  2. Check-in on their progress. Ask them if they have been repeating the activity.
  3. Coach Etiquette. Etiquette will come in handy if they become part of the business world. They may not be an all-star football player, but knowing how to bowl or golf could help them climb the fiscal ladder and they should know that!

Provide Opportunity:

  1. If they prefer a particular night, or want to practice technique, repeat it. Perhaps even make it a “Thursday” night summer club like adults have!

Provide Periodization:

  1. Drills – Youth have short attention spans. Drills for any activity should not go beyond 7 – 10 minutes. That means you have time for 4 drills on form, and 20 minutes or more of scrimmage/play/participating in an activity.
  2. Seasons- Cycle the lifestyle activity with the seasons. Our bodies require periodization so we do not suffer from overuse injuries. This suggestion is for athletes and recreational athletes alike. It makes the body stronger to experience different planes of motion and skillsets.

When it comes to lifestyle sports, talk to kids. If they do not like traditional team sports, find something else that suits their personality. Then, teach them how to incorporate it into their life. Talk about their future, and how to incorporate it into college or trade school and after. It’s your job and they will probably be more likely to take these suggestions from you than their parents (wink)!

Paulette Kowalski, MS ATC cPT


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