Tia Wayling is the recreation services co-ordinator with the Regional District of Central Kootenay. File photo

Tia Wayling is the recreation services co-ordinator with the Regional District of Central Kootenay. File photo

Rec Perspectives: Physical Literacy

Learning physical skills as kids can help with fitness into adulthood

By Tia Wayling, Recreation Services Co-ordinator with the Regional District of Central Kootenay

The streets are swept, and the cyclists are out in full force clocking their long distance rides with amazing views. Just as yard athletes have come out strong from their off-season training, with avid gardeners and lawn enthusiasts executing maximum repetitions of bending, pushing, and pulling.

READ MORE: Rec Perspectives: Summer Days Are Just Around the Corner

The children will be out of school in a few weeks and their desk-bound days will be put on hiatus for two months as they make the most of summer, burning off energy that comes from an unknown source. This endless supply of energy in our youth is necessary. It’s almost like a time of training to improve the skill of a variety of activities we enjoy as adults. While we still learn new things in adulthood, it’s more enjoyable and comes easier to us if we learned the movement basics when we were young. Kind of like learning languages. It’s best when the brain is more malleable and accepting of new tricks. In the recreation world, we call that physical literacy.

Introducing physical literacy into the lives of young children allows them to move with competence and confidence. There are a wide variety of activities that benefit healthy development and build the understanding and knowledge to make healthy, active choices as adults. Most adults over the age of 40 spent all of their days unknowingly gaining physical literacy outside playing all the sports and taking bold and exciting adventures to nowhere. Today’s youth are faced with a much more sedentary lifestyle, and as adults, we have to take a strategic approach to ensure they are not left behind. Failure to develop physical literacy puts children at a great disadvantage as they eventually struggle as adults. They have a higher risk of becoming inactive, unco-ordinated adults who lack the interest and confidence to participate in physical activity not only for themselves, but those behaviours pass down to their children, perpetuating the decline in our society’s health.

So how can you ensure your child is developing physical literacy for life? The Sport for Life Society (www.sportforlife.ca) and Physical Literacy for Life (www.physicalliteracyforlife.ca) are entirely devoted to this initiative. They have free resources and materials to help you understand the physical and cognitive developmental needs at every stage of life and how you can help your child meet those needs. It’s not just about signing them up for all the sports but it’s also about setting that example of what an active lifestyle looks like.

Are you already an adult and late to the physical literacy game? No problem. Recognizing that physical activity is necessary to improve health and a long, lasting life is the first step. If your movement confidence is low and trying new activities is really hard and discouraging, recognize and embrace the literacy level you are at, and start with what is easiest to you. For most, that would be walking. Then, branch out into other activities you find fun and rewarding. Don’t be afraid to be a kid again. Most of all, be kind to yourself. And remember, never compare your chapter two to someone’s chapter 22. It’s just not the same.

At the end of the day, just move your body often in any way that is rewarding and feels good, and set an active example for your kids and grandkids so you are a contributor to the future health of our youth.

ColumnColumnistCreston Valley