Sean is in the phase of childhood where he asks a lot of questions. And by a lot, I mean a ton. Today we were driving and he saw a man running along the road and asked, “Why?” I told him he was running because running is fun and it is good for you. This made sense to him because there are few things Sean loves more than sprinting as fast as he can and watching the ground whiz by as he goes. Running is genuinely fun for him. He does not care about distance or time or calories, all he sees is the world whizzing by as he feels the breeze against his skin. I began to wonder what would happen if we all associated exercise with fun from a young age. Instead of using it as punishment: squat thrusts when you are late for gym class, suicide sprints from missing a ground ball, or even a self-inflicted, mandatory hour on the treadmill after overindulging on sweets. What if we let go of that mentality and just let it be what it is: healthy and fun; good for the mind and body? What would happen to the health of our nation’s kids? What would the health data for the adult population in the United States look like? I dare to predict that obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and blood pressure statistics would improve. What about general mentality? I even dare to predict that we would be happier and healthier in both our minds and bodies.
The question is, how can we change a mentality that has been developed over decades of discipline tactics, negative associates, and self-depreciation? It starts with one thought, one idea, and one action. It starts with loving ourselves, treating ourselves kindly, and nurturing our bodies and minds through exercise; utilizing it as a tool for repair and recovery rather than a tool for discipline. It starts with teaching our kids the same. It starts with us, our bodies, and our minds.