How Do You Get Your Bookworm to be More Active?

I’ve been thinking a lot about making sure my kids stay active–even though they are still at the stage where they never seem to stop moving–and in doing so I’ve reflected on my own childhood a lot. So how do you get your bookworm to be more active? My own very favorite activities have always been sedentary ones–reading, writing, art–but I was a pretty bouncy child. I wish I still had that liveliness; what could have been done to preserve it? What would have made me want to move? Perhaps even more, what made me not want to move? Many of these hold true for me as an adult, too!

Lack of Interest

For the most part, I just didn’t care about being active. I don’t like being outside; don’t like bugs and dirt. I don’t like sweat. It’s icky. However, I think with some creativity, I could have been lured into it. Again, how do you get your bookworm to be more active.

I like history–I like stories in general–and I would be interested in hiking around old foundations and abandoned rail beds and battlefields if a story went with it. Boston’s Freedom Trail is a good example of a really long but interesting walk I’ve taken.

I like winter–you know, no bugs, no dirt–and I wish I’d had more opportunity to do snow sports, although several of them are unfortunately cost prohibitive.

I liked art and music, and would have loved to learn Highland Dance.

Lack of Commitment

I loved soccer and still do–I’m always game for a game. 🙂 However, I quit playing on a team after fifth grade because I found practices boring (and a little embarrassing–see below.) I wish I could have played in a scrimmage league that just played games. (Note: I don’t know if these even exist.) I might not have gotten much better, but let’s face it, I never had a bright future in the sport. I needed it to be fun. I’m a little divided in my thoughts about this–I know that discipline, including doing things you don’t want to do or don’t enjoy, is important and a big part of athletics. But I gained neither discipline nor better health, so what would I really have lost if we just played games?


I hated gym class. I can’t remember ever liking it, but I particularly remember hating it starting in fourth grade. We had to run laps, and I was always the last to finish. Everyone watched–or so I thought–my slow body rounding the corners, my asthmatic body stopping to breathe. The gym teacher yelled at me to keep going, or, worse, “Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth!” I have never been able to breathe through my nose regularly, but I’m a people pleaser, and it was torture not being able to do this and being constantly scolded for it. Finally, I have very, very light skin and it turns BRIGHT red when I exercise. Alarmingly red. Almost purple. People always throng around asking if I am ok. When I was younger, I didn’t realize it had so much to do with my skin tone and really wondered myself if I was ok. Nothing like sitting in gym class dying of embarrassment and wondering if I was about to die. What could be done differently? Of course, the gym teacher could be more sensitive. My other thought will probably not be popular, but I’ve been most faithful to exercise when I can do it in private and compete against myself. Couldn’t I have done it at home and, say, tried to beat my own best running time or sit up record? Gym class itself could have focused on learning form for different exercises.

Incentive Missing?

I mean this in a positive sense–I didn’t feel I gained anything by being active– and a negative sense– I didn’t really understand the consequences of being overly sedentary.

Kids who finish last in gym class didn’t get great grades in it. No incentive there.

I would work for money, and many’s the chore I did for my grandmother, who, I might add, did not pay for shoddy work. That’s another post right there. 🙂

Another incentive that would have worked for me might have been a sense of independence, as appropriate to my age, of course. If going for a walk in the back field meant I was trusted to be alone, it would have had greater appeal. (And it did…I did go for such walks.) Another take on that is I could have been given more responsibilities that involved moving–I think I would have responded well to that.

As an adult, I look at people much older than me, those who have led active lives and those who have not, and I know which one I want to be. We want to keep up with my grandkids at a theme park. Together we want to be able to pick them up. This isn’t entirely in my control, but I also know that there is a connection to how active I am now and how active I’m able to be then. I think I would have responded to this even as a younger person, comparing where I could be physically when I was 30, but no one taught me about that in a way that struck a chord with me.

Lack of Example

I hate to bring this up because I love my parents and think they did a great job. My family loves doing things together, then and now, and I would have signed up for anything that was going on. However…not much of it was physically demanding. I think the finger is really pointed at me here–my kids need a much better example, too. I exercise by fits and spurts; I’ve done a lot of it, but there are times when I do nothing. The good news is, I think I feel another fit coming on. 🙂

These are just some thoughts from a non-athlete, for what they’re worth. I’d love to hear creative ideas on getting your naturally indoors loving child–or yourself–to move and enjoy it!

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  1. Anne Sweden
  2. Allison

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