Chapter 3 – Move That Body: Observe children at a playground. When they are let loose in an environment where they can be free to do whatever they wish, they immediately run off and play with other kids. They will be jumping, running, and climbing for hours if we let them. Kids have no problem moving. In fact, kids love to move around so much that we sometimes have to tell them to be still. It is an instinct for young children to move their bodies. It is a way we, as young humans, explore the environment. Touching, lifting, and falling are part of the initiation process to life. As we reach puberty, we become more confident of our physical strength, no longer needing to move like little children to learn about life. In our reproductive years, our instincts shift toward self-actualization. Self-actualization is our innate desire to realize our full potential. This need to self-actualize really stems from the instinct to reproduce. Just like all living creatures in nature, we try to be our best, look our best, be successful, impress the opposite sex, and intimidate our competitors. Our need for sex drives self-actualization. Teenagers and young adults move around, often driven by similar goals. For recreation, the guys more likely take part in competitive sports, while the girls engage in more exhibitionistic activities like dance and cheerleading. Young people love to meet in groups, hang out, play sports, go camping, and go dancing, among other activities. For the majority of people, this level of activity declines, often drastically, when they secure their life partners and the family comes along. By then, no longer is there time for hanging out in groups; there’s no time for sports, no time to dance. We consider ourselves too busy with work, home, kids, and paying the bills. We call this phase “settling down.” When we settle down, we automatically reduce our need to self-actualize. We automatically stop engaging in activities as we used to. Our human instinct is also to settle down, build the nest, nurture the next generation, and lose our younger selves. Settling down usually means stressing out a lot more and moving less, a whole lot less. Some people may say that they still move when they are busy with work, home, and kids. That kind of movement is different from the sort we make when we’re teenagers; it is a lot less exhaustive, less enjoyable, more stress inducing, and of little benefit. That is partly the reason why parents tend to gain weight immediately after having children. Years go by. Children grow up. Some people make more money, some not. Retirement comes. The change seldom happens from one day to the next, but our ability to move gets progressively inhibited. Then we watch the kids at sports. We watch them dance and do all kinds of things. Many can be heard saying, “I used to do those things when I was young,” because they have come to accept that they are not anywhere as fit as they were before. The passage of time would have them transform into old, inactive people. Many settle further, get content with being spectators, and watch others live the way they used to live. They may not attempt to take part in some physical activities for fear of breaking something. They get even more sedentary and give up moving altogether. The larger part of society would agree with this older generation to “stay put,” “don’t exert yourself,” and “at your age, you should take it easy.” But the truth is that “taking it easy” leads to further inability to move. What if during those in-between years these people had not stopped moving like teenagers? What if they had stayed active in sports, dance, and other recreational activities? Many would not have found the time to get old. How different would you be from the majority of people in society today if you had just kept going? It is rare but not uncommon to find individuals who keep the same physical activity till way past middle age. Many celebrities and retired athletes have kept fit for life. Seek out good examples of famous people or people in your neighborhood who have kept up with sports and activities that keep them fit. Put their pictures in your clipboard, on your desktop, or anywhere that works as a “vision board.” At any age, do take part in recreational activities, especially those that are fun and challenge you physically. Don’t fear exertion. Never allow age to be an excuse for excluding yourself from the fun. If you already feel physically inept, read this chapter and the next. You can improve your physical condition at any age.
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