I feel that any exercise I do has to serve a dual purpose in my life – it has to be more than just something I do for myself. I recently started cycling my boys to school for example. I’m maintaining my weight (I might even be losing some) and I feel fitter, which is really reassuring.
I work with children and, with three young boys of my own, I am constantly reminded how much children love movement. They love to challenge themselves in new ways and I find that both inspiring and encouraging.
When I’m with people my own age, I notice they are often really uncomfortable with sitting on the ground, squatting down, or walking down a steep slope. They seem unsure on their feet, whereas I don’t always take the easiest route; I climb a tree now and then, or I dance when I’m washing up. And – now I think about it – I’m more inclined to use a dustpan and brush than a Hoover …
There are other everyday adjustments. My husband Edward and I don’t have a bed, which may sound radical to some. We sleep on mats on the floor – we find them more comfortable, and they help with flexibility and strength – even just sitting on the floor or on lower seating encourages flexibility.
It’s a mind-set, really. I think of activity as adventure or play rather than exercise. So for days out or holidays we sometimes go indoor climbing, walking, canoeing, biking. Being prepared helps. We try to have enough supplies so we can stay out longer than expected. Out on a walk we’ll wear old clothes and even over-trousers so that kneeling in the dirt or getting wet and muddy isn’t an issue.
I guess I move in ways I might otherwise have grown out of – children are such great role models for this. Sometimes I copy their movements just to catch the fun! It’s all too easy to get set in your ways.
Rachel and Edward run Swainswick Explorers, an outdoor play scheme for children; playingoutdoors.org
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