Starting exercise at an early age

By Joanne Peterson | Apr 11, 2013

My grandson Adam will be four in a week or so. He weighs 38 pounds now, and when I pick him up, it feels as if his shoes are nailed to the floor.

He’s still thin, taller than the rest of his daycare class. I doubt he’ll be one of the alarming percentage of teens in America with a weight problem.

My son-in-law Eric is athletic by nature and by build. His bad back means he doesn’t do athletic activities painlessly, but he does them.

The back problems—plus marriage and a family--presumably ended Eric’s international mountain-climbing days, but he still loves being active outdoors

Family photos show Lisa and Eric and their small children on cross-country ski trails, playing on the beach or bike-riding.

These days, all sorts of conveyances exist to tote little kids on trails or along bike paths, giving early introduction to the joys of outdoor activity.

Adam was two when he went zip-lining. (Little-kid zip-line!)

Last weekend, when I visited my daughter and family in West Seattle, I arrived when two-year-old Abby was napping.

Her dad was in the living room.  All was quiet. I asked where Lisa was.

“She’s downstairs working out,” said Eric. And Adam? “He’s downstairs working out with Lisa.”

Intrigued, I quietly headed downstairs, and before Adam saw me, I watched through the door of the workout room. Lisa’s bike was propped on the device that allows it to be used for an exercise bike, and she was pedaling steadily.

Next to his mom, Adam sat on a little-kid bicycle-toy that hooks up through the TV to play little-kid road-race games. I forget what the toy is called; it’s a hand-me-down from cousin Annika.

Eyes on the screen, Adam pedaled the bicycle furiously, handling the joystick with confidence, following the vocal instructions to race the red car along the track, avoiding obstacles, aiming for certain objects.  Bam! Bam!

After I entered the room and kissed the grinning little racecar driver on the neck, his mother finished her ride. Before she went upstairs, she reminded Adam, “The faster you pedal, the faster the race goes, so pedal hard!”

Amazingly, he picked up the pace—pedals flying-- and continued  for several minutes while I sat and cheered him on.

I am not proud that I sat and cheered him on while Lisa’s bike sat right next to me, clearly available. I do not want to be a sedentary grandmother.

My daughter—not especially athletic Before Eric—is training (on her new bicycle) for the annual STP and will ride from Seattle to Portland with Eric this summer.

She and Eric ride most every weekend, increasing distances. Other training?  Recently, they participated in a climb (69 flights?)  to the top of the Columbia Tower.

In addition to family outdoor activities, Adam likely will begin playing soccer next year.

I’m already excited about driving 45 minutes each way to stand in the rain and watch him play for three minutes.


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