Tag Archive | exercise

Weather for the brain!

What a tough challenge of weather! Storms Ciara and Dennis have made it grim to be out and this coming from someone who generally walks all weathers. It’s even been too much for me sometimes, let alone rather unsafe. But I get damn twitchy in body and mind shut inside for too long.

Just like the kids do.

I remember those twitchy little bodies on home educating days when it somehow happened that we didn’t get out under the sky – even if sky between buildings and not the usual green space we preferred. It made such a difference to moods when we got out, despite challenging weather. And made a huge difference to the atmosphere in the house when we got back. It was like a miracle. (There’s a little story about it in my book ‘A Home Education Notebook’ called The Outdoor Miracle which shows how this happened, even to the teenager!)

whatever the weather…

As modern day life and the constant prod of technology place ever more demands upon us, and create ever more stress, the need to get kids outside especially in green spaces is often in the media. And ever more urgent. How they need this for their health; physical and mental. How we all need it for our health, physical and mental; parents too.

We need to pay it attention. It’s crucial we set the example, even when it’s tough.

Research into our brain health and development constantly updates our understanding of our brains and the need for physical activity to promote brain and body health and well-being. They are all connected. And just like a healthy muscle needs the action of blood rushing round it to keep it fit, so too do our brains. And active body has a direct impact on the way the brain functions.

There’s an interesting article here which talks about that impact along with some ideas about getting them moving. Thought provoking, but like with everything on the net; be discerning! It isn’t all about raising smart kids as in the title, it’s about raising happy, well balanced kids and time outdoors, moving about, contributes to that. And is all part of their education.

So whatever the weather (as long as it’s safe) get outside for an active blast. Most kids find rain, winds, storms quite exhilarating if we promote them as such. And you’ll be ever so relieved you did when you get back. You too will experience the outdoor miracle!

Meanwhile I hope you haven’t suffered too much, my thoughts are with those of you who have!

Why you should make this bank holiday an ACTIVE one!

I was in Hull recently at the ‘Freedom of Expression Centre’ at the Hull School of Art and Design looking at an exhibition by Bob and Roberta Smith.

His exhibition was about protest, but I love his work mostly because it champions creativity in education and why it’s needed. (See this blog here)

Picture from the Hull Daily Mail

Later, I sat in the city centre watching the children run in and out of the fountains which shoot up out of the paving. Such a pleasure to see their enjoyment, their delight in the water, to actually see kids ACTIVE, running about, moving, getting some exercise. Far too often you see children in the opposite mode!

We all acknowledge that exercise is important – for us all. It keeps our bodies fit, keeps our brains fit too, and ups our wellbeing.

But did you realise that it’s essential not just for now; because an active habit throughout life, starting in childhood, has an effect on our brains later on?

Whatever activity you and your kids do now, and throughout your life, will impact on your mental agility at the other end of your life too, could make the difference to your kids succumbing to conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s?

You wouldn’t think older age had anything to do with kids, but not true. The current thinking is that the amount of activity they’ve engaged in throughout their life impacts on the likelihood of mental decline as they, too, hit those older years. Of course, this is as relevant to you as it is to them.

We’re urged to be investing in pension schemes right from being young. What we should also be urged to do is invest in an active lifestyle right from being young. Not invest in terms of money. But in terms of exercise and activity. It’s free, after all!

And another important reason why ALL SCHOOLS SHOULD BE ACTIVE SCHOOLS, to borrow from Bob and Roberta Smith’s piece about art schools! And further evidence of the short sightedness of the government for squeezing out active pursuits, as they squeeze out creativity.

But you can commit to an investment in your children in terms of action, right from this very minute: make your bank holiday an active one! And make sure your child’s education and daily habits are active ones too.

Do you listen to your own advice?

Last weekend I listened to my own advice and got out of my comfort zone. spring15 005

I’d posted a blog about the benefits of doing so a little while ago and then ignored myself. Hypocrite or what?

I’ve set that right now. I had a meeting in town last weekend and the others needed the transport. I could have messed about with lifts but everyone else would have had to change their timings. I could have walked the three miles up to the main road and caught the bus. Or I could push beyond those comfortable alternatives and get the bike out.

I can’t say that I didn’t teeter on the edge of comfort and indecision for a while. After all it was ten miles. But conditions were good – the wind was blowing in the right direction and it was dry, even if only just above freezing. Then there was the problem of what to wear in order to combat the cold but not turn up in all weather gear for a meeting. And did I really want to arrive with a weather ruddy face and a sniffy nose?

I gave myself a kick up the comfortable and got over all that. And I’m SO glad I did. I would have missed so much that I actually delight in.

The morning fields were full of Lark song and the occasional gardens I passed full of Spring chorus. I surprised a Munkjac deer who scuttled across the lane and squeezed through a hole in a hedge but not before I got a good look at it. Chaffinches piped their distinctive call from various perches along the route. And even the town gardens when I finally got there were bursting with signs of Spring; birdsong, blossom and blooms.

I have to admit cycling through town was a bit of a culture shock, but that was counteracted by the fact that most of the miles were done and it looked like I was actually going to make it. And in good time. Time enough for the eyes to stop watering, the nose runs to abate, the face to stop glowing quite so beacon like and my legs to recover enough to walk normally.

But one thing that didn’t recover was the buzz it gave me from having pushed beyond my excuses and faced a challenge, from being out in the elements, from physical activity and achieving a long cycle I hadn’t managed for ages, and a change in my routine.

Sore bum and wobbly legs aside, it was absolutely worth it. The boost it gave me lasted for days.

It seems then I do give good advice sometimes. I should listen to myself more often. Do you listen to your advice – all that advice you’re imparting to your children? Or have you slipped, like me, into a little bit of hypocrisy!

Now, what shall I go for next?

Sometimes her mother’s right!

Charley's shot Snipe DalesHad such a lovely walk with Charley this weekend. It’s rare I manage to drag her out with me now. She’s her own woman and no longer a child under the control of a parent saying ‘let’s get out for a nice walk’!

I lured her with the promise of a visit to an old haunt we frequented when we were home educating. Plus hot chocolate and biscuits to follow, of course!

It’s a long time since we visited this site. Everything seemed to have grown. She’s grown too, but still remembers the pathways through the tress, the dens they made as children and the stream they paddled, dammed, and fell in! We walked in the shelter of the trees, talked and took photos. – she’s lent me hers to post here. And I think those happy memories reconnected her with good feelings that can easily plummet when stuck in front of a screen all day, however appealing it feels at the time, or when you’re battered by life.

We were all rosy and content when we got back, proving again what an important impact on our wellbeing fresh air, natural spaces and movement has. It even worked when they were teens.

She doesn’t want to admit her mother’s right of course! But we both acknowledge that, as we lead our lives so much more virtually these days, we do still have to make an effort to connect to the real physical world too, the more natural the better.

And I’m telling you this in the hope that you’ll make that connection an important part of what you do with your children for you’ll see a change in them too. And if they taste and learn about the activities that support their wellbeing it will be a lesson valuable to them for life. Habits formed in childhood can last forever – even if they still need a bit of encouragement from time to time!

The bright side of a leaky roof

20150729_120816My muscles have been feeling a bit like they’ve had a good session in the gym.

They haven’t – I don’t do gyms, I exercise outside, cycling or walking daily and gardening, if you could call it that. It’s more a case of wrestling back the rampant nettles and brambles that would take us over. And the roses and vine that creep under the tiles when I take my eyes off their growth spurts, causing the tiles to lift and roof to leak.

This is the reason for achy muscles; climbing the ladder, clinging to the roof top and fighting wind lashed polythene sheeting into place until the builders get here. Thanks to former exercise I’m fit enough to tackle it!

I can’t blame the roses for the leak this time. I think it was the birds pecking the insects off the flat topped windows that stick out from the roof, making little holes as they do so. And the pigeon who struts about showing off to any watching females. That and the age of the house of course. Time has gone on and we were happily oblivious to the consequences until a steady drip of rain water onto carpet in the middle of a stormy night raised alarm through our senses.

Nothing gets me more wide awake than dripping where dripping shouldn’t be. Or makes you feel more vulnerable than the sudden knowledge that your impenetrable fortress is not so impenetrable as you thought.

Look on the bright side, I said to myself whilst lying on a plank on the flat roof in the rain spread-eagled against rearing plastic, at least it is repairable and at least I have a roof even if it is temporarily leaking, unlike those poor folks I see in grubby blankets sleeping in doorways and under bridges.

Temporary cover laid, the tricky bit is to squirm back to the ladder top and get my foot on the first rung, always a fall risk moment. But back down on the ground with fatigue wobbly arms and legs I know that a bit of a challenge and drip disturbed sleep is small price to pay for this roof over my head. I know I am privileged to have it. And maybe even lucky to have these little hiccups to keep me from taking it for granted.

This might be a very ‘Pollyanna’ attitude. (Have you watched that film with the children? It’s a great one for promoting discussion on appreciation). But it’s also a reminder that appreciation of all that we have serves us much better than an feeling of lack and envy, which the insidious advertising we’re bombarded with can instil in us.

Pollyanna makes looking on the bright side an art form! Thanks to a leaky roof  and wobbly muscles I’m reminded to practice that artistry a bit more often!