Picture yourself when you were a fifth grader, probably nine or ten years old. Do you remember …
Looking into the sky watching clouds morph into zoo animals and cartoon characters? Running with outstretched arms like Superman or Wonder Woman, saving the entire city? Playing tag, getting caught, and laughing so hard you couldn’t breathe? Climbing trees? Running and jumping into a pile of leaves? Not worrying about how much you weighed, what you looked like, what clothes you wore, or how much money you had? Skipping, hiding, seeking, shooting, chasing, swimming, dancing, and catching?
When we were young, moving our bodies was a natural part of our day. We looked forward to recess. We longed for it. We dreamt about it. We waited patiently for the school bell to ring or our next-door neighbor to come home to play. We were always in motion.
PLAY Like A Kid
Dr. William Sears, “America’s Pediatrician,” is the father of eight children and a best-selling author and, most important, loves kids. He asked fitness expert Foy to co-author a book with him and his son Peter, called Lean Kids.
With the desire to help children combat inactivity and obesity, they set out to create a proven program that would be implemented in schools, after-school facilities, churches, and community centers throughout the United States. They knew that to help kids move more, they would need to come up with a fun way of building activity back into their lives. They thought it would be easy.
What they didn’t realize was how much activity had been removed from our children’s lives. In performing their research, Dr. Sears and Foy looked at movement patterns of youth years ago. They also fondly remembered when they were young, playing outdoors. Today, for our kids, it is just the opposite. With tablets, smart phones, and online games, kids today need to be coaxed to go outside. They spend much of their days sitting down and therefore experience some of the same health and fitness challenges as adults three times their age.
So Foy and the Searses went to work, with a passion and desire to design a curriculum and program geared to help kids get moving again. They created the PLAY program and implemented it in various after-school facilities. After the initial pilot programs, they were pleased to see that children improved not only their strength, flexibility, endurance, balance, coordination, weight loss, and overall fitness and health, but also their confidence, self-esteem, emotional well-being, relationships, and quality of life.
Foy and the Searses knew they were onto something. Today there are more than 1,000 certified LEAN coaches who are helping kids and families get fit throughout the world. That same program is the basis for the PLAY concept of The Daniel Plan.
The Difference a Ride Makes
“A few years ago I went on a hike with a friend and saw a group of ladies doing a mountain bike clinic. They invited us to join their group, and the next day I signed up online. I had no idea I would have so much fun riding a bike or how much my life would change because of this group activity. It’s become like a sisterhood for me as I learned to take to the trails with people who support and cheer me on every time we ride.
“The leader of The Trail Angels inspires and often encourages us to get out of our comfort zones. With the confidence she has taught me on the bike, I’m now leading beginners on their first rides.”
“Mountain biking has also become a kind of therapy for me. If I’m having a rough day, a quick mountain bike ride with friends changes my outlook and clears my head. Our rides are often filled with laughter. A crash or a flat tire often turns into an opportunity to take funny pictures to post on Facebook. Some rides have themes or costumes, and we’ve been known to do scavenger hunts while riding. This kind of fun with fitness is contagious. I’m always thinking about my next ride and wondering who I can invite to join me!”
Back then we called it play, and we loved every minute of it. Today, for many, we call it exercise and count every minute of it, longing for it to be over. We frequently find it painful, boring, or dull, and we feel guilty about not doing it. For many of us, the results of tomorrow are just not worth the effort today. Many of us won’t switch to an active lifestyle just because it’s good for us. So what will change us?
Kay Warren said, “You were meant for something more. You were meant to experience a life of joy.” God designed us to experience joy. In fact, we crave it and search for it. Unfortunately, when stress builds up, joy escapes us, and we wind up overeating, overworking, overstressing, overdoing, and even over-sitting. Most of our days are spent with long spans of minimal movement, which impacts not only our joy, but also our bodies.
The Daniel Plan integrates motion with devotion and brings back the fun and joy to your fitness and life.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? Sure, we can pop in the extreme fitness DVD or drag ourselves to the gym for a few weeks or months, but sooner or later, if we don’t enjoy what we are doing, we are going to find a way out. Why spend time enduring workouts we don’t enjoy when we can experience all the health and fitness benefits of a complete exercise program, having fun learning to PLAY again?
P: Prayerful movements throughout your day
L: Loosening breaks
A: Active games and aerobic activity
Y: Youthful strength training
All of the elements found in the PLAY method are essential to an effective fitness program. Some of them are also designed to help strengthen your relationship to God. By applying this simple method to your day, you will recapture your strength and the joy of moving again.