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  • Writer's picturePeak Benefit Solutions Team

Life & Movement: Physical Literacy At Every Age

by Kristen Young, Founder of TRX Pilates PTBO

Trends and Connections

Our bodies were not fashioned for perpetual chair-sitting, nor were they crafted for endless driving or constant electronic device use. Instead, they were designed to move, to harvest, to play, to run, to hunt, to travel on foot, to create, to protect, and to carry us through life.


A new and profound term is circulating in the movement and physical world for the new generation of kids and children. This new term is called physical literacy, and us millennials may remember it from our school days as "phys ed" or physical education. When we think about phys ed, we often think about dodgeball, running, and team games in a gymnasium for a period of school. Some of us may have enjoyed it and usually ended up excelling at sports, gymnastics, or dance, while others may have disliked phys ed because they didn't get chosen for teams or couldn't 'keep up'. Physical literacy, on the other hand, has similarities to physical education but starts before school age and can be defined as our ability to learn the language of movement, reap the benefits, and find enjoyment and self-confidence in different types of movement from a young age.


In today's modern world, the concept of physical literacy has emerged as a paramount concern, with the rise of screen time and sedentary lifestyles mirrored by our busy parents who communicate they feel "old" after the tender age of 30. If children do not experience and learn physical literacy shortly after walking, they can miss this window of opportunity to learn how to move well and build a healthy lifelong relationship with fitness, be it dance, sports, yoga, swimming, running, etc. Physical literacy shines a light on the significance of learning the language of movement and gaining physical capabilities as children and adults navigate the complex pathways of life. Much like how language skills are acquired from a young age, when we are young, our minds and bodies are in a constant state of absorption, assimilating crucial information on how to move efficiently and effectively. This formative phase of development holds immense importance in shaping our physical well-being and laying down the fundamental groundwork for a healthy, confident, and active lifestyle.


By definition, physical literacy begins by mastering essential motor skills such as running, jumping, throwing, and catching, and incorporating more intricate movements that involve elements of balance, coordination, and grace. Through different forms of movement, we not only enhance our physical capabilities but also derive immense pleasure and satisfaction from our life endeavors, all while mitigating the risks of potential chronic injuries. Physical literacy solely emphasizes the physical brain-body connection of exercise and movement without the conformative nature and societal pressure to lose weight, tone up, and look a certain way.


Furthermore, physical literacy serves as a crucial building block that can be visited and cultivated at any age. The intricate architecture of training the nervous system to facilitate fluid and seamless movement, thereby enabling us to preserve and enhance our physical selves as we progress through the stages of life. Just as world-class athletes embark on a rigorous journey of training and discipline from a young age to refine their craft, we too possess the innate ability to reprogram our brain's neural pathways and forge new connections that bolster our physical capabilities at any age and point along the physical life journey.


The benefits of engaging in physical activity extend far beyond the realm of physical health, sustaining a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being for children and adults. More and more studies prove that physical exercise helps us improve mentally. Daily exercise, as simple as a walk, has the ability to ensure we sleep better and it improves our ability to focus. Physical activity initiates the movement of stress chemicals out of the bloodstream, manufacturing a state of calm, while simultaneously releasing dopamine, making us feel happier. Movement can be seen as a competitive and group activity; however, it also has a personal component. Spending time alone in movement can unveil other benefits in mindfulness and self-awareness. By approaching movement with mindfulness and purpose, we cultivate a profound sense of bodily awareness and increase our self-assurance and self-acceptance. Physical activity emerges as a catalyst for enhancing cognitive functions, refining academic and occupational performance, and fortifying our mental resilience against the trials and tribulations of life.


Remember the phrase "try, try again"? A reality of life is that we don't get it right on the first try, or the second. Great athletes and inventors failed numerous times before achieving success. Learning how to move is similar and teaches us the dedication and perseverance we need to accomplish success. Confidence and mental fortitude stand out as pillars of physical literacy, creating invaluable lessons on the virtues of perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity. By trying something new and challenging ourselves in physical ways, we begin embracing setbacks and failures as stepping stones to eventual triumph, and by exemplifying the value of diligence and determination. We begin to empower ourselves and lend inspiration to the forthcoming generations, encouraging them to push past failures and believe in their limitless potential.


Movement is a form of empowerment, self-expression, coping, healing physically and mentally, while connecting with ourselves and others. The elaborate language of physical literacy encompasses a multifaceted blend of motivation, confidence, competence, knowledge, and deep-rooted understanding, all of which play an instrumental role in sustaining a lifelong commitment to healthy physical activity.


As mentors and guardians, adults and parents wield a profound influence in nurturing the blossoming seeds of physical literacy within children, but not by enlisting their kids in every sport and activity, but instead by setting an example through the parents' own dedication to incorporate a wide range of movement in their own habits and routines. Children learn best by example, which will encourage them to explore an array of movement styles that resonate with their passions and aspirations, while continually pushing their own personal boundaries of improvement. By instilling a deep-rooted commitment to the principles of physical literacy early on in life, we effectively pave the path for a future of holistic well-being.


When adults and parents move their bodies in different modalities such as sports, the gym, group fitness, etc., with the goal of maintaining and improving physical and mental health, they open up the doors of different movement styles and possibilities, and set an example of true self-care for the younger generations. Finding delight and fulfillment in our individual fitness journey serves as the cornerstone for fostering lifelong motivation and dedication to nurturing our physical and mental health.


Learning the language of fitness through physical literacy is not just for kids; it is a journey we can embark on at any age. Children learn best by example, positive reinforcement, and a wide range of choice and opportunity. As adults, we should also allow ourselves to explore a wide range of movement styles to challenge us and give us the opportunity to find joy through movement while improving our health and physical capabilities. We are becoming more aware that increasingly sedentary lifestyles are causing physical and mental health concerns in children as well as adults. This could result in mental health struggles, joint issues, poor posture, and a host of overuse injuries. It becomes imperative to acknowledge and prioritize physical literacy (aka movement) by allowing ourselves and our children to explore a diverse array of exercise styles that promote healthy posture, a balanced nervous system, and overall well-being. When we approach movement as physical literacy, we can become more realistic and pragmatic by setting aside the pressure to lose weight and build a "six-pack", which has been imposed on us by society and advertising, and dive into training and moving our bodies solely for function and enjoyment.


Let us lead by example, by placing an unwavering emphasis on our own physical well-being, thereby reaping the abundant rewards that come with dedication in the versatile language of movement. It is time we begin our journey towards improved physical and mental health while simultaneously inspiring children and others to commence their own pilgrimage of growth and well-being.



Fraser Health: Physical Activity for Children


Physical Literacy Canada: Physical Literacy


Journal Article: Physical Literacy: A Review of Current Literature

Chris Zelasko
Kristen Young Founder, TRX Pilates PTBO

370 B Burnham St,

Peterborough, ON

Phone: 819-230-5747

Kristen is a former wound care nurse and personal trainer. After having a baby in 2020, Kristen embarked on a new health and weight loss journey, She found a new world of results and success through a combination of TRX suspension training and Pilates. Kristen decided to transition away from the realm of weightlifting and competitive fitness, focusing instead on teaching others how to achieve optimal form and function to live in a pain-free body.

Peak Benefit Solutions Inc. was established in 2008 and have helped more than 400 clients from entrepreneurs, manufacturing, professional services and public organizations with their comprehensive benefits planning. Every step of the way, we are with you.



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