Sporting Women and Girls

posted in: Feminism, Fitness, Motherhood | 0

Sports For Life

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Tabitha running the 400m last week.

Why Walk When You Can Run?

My belief that hard-core exercise is a must for brain, body strength and longevity is continually being backed up by scientific research.

Below are three great articles on recent studies that show how vital physical exercise is to brain health (the last one is a favourite of mine because I am passionate about dance)cut and paste

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/regular-exercise-changes-brain-improve-memory-thinking-skills-20140409711

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/04/one-twin-exercises-the-other-doesnt/?_r=0

http://socialdance.stanford.edu/syllabi/smarter.htm

Fitness has always been a big part of my life. My earliest memories of myself are that I always liked to be moving: dancing or running around outside exploring. I didn’t walk to friends houses, I ran. By high school I’d put myself in a scheduled exercise regime that included weight lifting and aerobic exercise.

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Tabitha refereeing Pip’s soccer game this past Saturday morning.

A Mother Must Be Active If She Desires Her Daughters To Be

If your daughter and her apathy toward exercise leaves you frustrated, fear not. Become the athlete you want her to be. She’ll eventually get off her butt and follow suit!

I’ve been a mother of daughters for 18 years. I’ve seen each of my daughter’s interest in physical activities wax and wane. When my daughters get tired and complain on hikes, and on the ski hill, it’s up to me to bolster their spirits and keep them soldiering on. Sometimes, their moods are too foul and I do let them retreat back to the chalet.

Despite what they do or don’t accomplish for their fitness on any particular day, one thing is constant: I must solider on, modelling life long fitness regardless of my circumstance. I get injured all of the time, this means I just have to adjust how I work out until I heal; but I won’t be sedentary. There is always some activity I can do until I return to health: walk, yoga, cycle, water exercises.

I was surprised recently when my daughter in ninth grade didn’t sign up for track and field at her school. She’s always done track and field. I encouraged her to rethink her decision. When she said, I’m not that fast anymore, I said, who cares? I doubt I’ll even finish in the top 100 in my next race but I’m going to do it anyway. As long as I train and finish the race, that’s all that matters to me.

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Tabs refereeing Pip’s soccer game this past Saturday. Pip has the ball.

She ended up taking pictures of the first track meet for the school year book and that was enough to encourage her to join. I’m happy to say she’s back on the team, running the 400 race. She trains with her cousin. She’ll call her cousin up and say, I’m coming over to run with you. Off they’ll go, timing their paces with their iPhone apps.

My eldest daughter started university his year. She’s always been naturally thin so her physical appearance never motivates her to work out. When I encourage her to get some exercise, she complains that all she likes is ballet (now that she’s in university, she no longer takes lessons). I make no apologies for saying to her, it’s the inside that counts. You don’t want a flabby heart, lungs and brain. Her dad and I bought her a university gym membership so she’d try a few of their dance classes.

When she complains to me how hard it is to lift all the heavy clothing on hangers at work (she has a part-time job). I tell her that in our modern world, we spend so much time hunched over, in “unnatural” positions all day long, that the only way to save the spine is to lift weights. I’ve encouraged her to start lifting weights at a gym at least 3 times a week for 1/2 h. I am hopeful she will follow through with this.

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Tabs at the track meet last week.

Being a Weekend Warrior Is Not Enough

The female body needs to be strong to survive in this world. We all need a weekly exercise regime. A weekly exercise regime is the main meal, what you do on weekends is the dessert. Weekend activities are for fun: go crazy on weekends, have fun and push your physical boundaries!

I tell my daughters that they need at least 1/2 h of aerobic activity every single day, even if that’s just taking the dogs for a walk or walking/biking to school. Once my girls turn 18, I encourage them to start lifting weights at a gym 3 times a week for 1/2 h as well.

Irish Dancing is NOT the best dance for breast-feeding moms to be doing! A woman’s body is always changing throughout her life, with pregnancy and breast-feeding. We have to constantly readjust our workouts to accommodate our bodies. I studied Irish step dancing while breastfeeding. I completed the class but gave up on Irish dancing during that phase of my life because my breasts were so heavy with milk that the dancing was awkward and too hard on my back (in Irish dancing, the arms must be pressed to the sides, still at all times, while the legs do all the work).

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Tabs leaves the track meet in style (with her dad).

Longevity Matters

Anyone can be an athlete when they’re young—the sense of invincibility helps motivate one to try new athletic pursuits. But the real athletes are those who remain active for life—they’re in it for the long haul despite changing life circumstances and injury. This is why girls need real women athletes as mentors, not simply young Olympic athlete crushes, but someone who has maintained fitness throughout all the demands in a woman’s life. I am in awe of the women (over 60 year olds) who pass me during running races like I’m standing still. Those women are the real sport heroes.

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