It's a jungle gym out there. Are you 'Playground Fit'?

 

On a warm Sunday in August I found myself physically out manoeuvred by my 3 year old.  It stung.

I watched him run up a slide, dart right at the top, spin on his heel and leap down a fireman’s pole cheering triumphantly.

I followed him confidently, only managing half way up the slide before I slide back down humiliated onto the grass, much to the amusement of my watching husband and friends. My insistence that I was wearing “slippery socks” was only met with laughter.  I spent the rest of the day determined to get to the top of that slide - and I did, eventually.

Feet together lengthways on board.

Feet together lengthways on board.

This incident showed me the importance of adults wanting to join in with their children, but more importantly being able to. It is all too tempting to sit on a park bench checking our smart phones whilst our children run, jump and chase each other. Let’s face it, as they get older they may prefer it if we stay on that bench!

When an adult goes for a run in the park it is not in the same way a child ‘runs’ in the park. Children constantly change direction, they zig-zag, they zag-zig, they double bluff you, run rings round you.

It's their agility, their ability to instantly change direction and "turn on a sixpence" that we lose as grown ups because we don't chase anymore. We don't evade capture from an imaginary monster/bear/baddie. In short, we lose the essence of play, the ability to squat and play on the floor, to commando roll across the lawn and to feel the effortless joy and achievement of movement.

Hip width on narrow board setting

Hip width on narrow board setting

Clearly the best way to get involved with our children’s play is to simply GET involved, but there are some ways we can help improve our agility and reactions.

Balance work on the Wobble Board: Feet wide apart, hip width, together or standing on one leg. The purpose of the wobble board is not to keep it still but to react to the movement of the board.

To increase the difficulty turn the wobble board to the narrower width. This makes the movement of the board and therefore reaction times quicker.