Make Fitness a Family Affair
As a mother and a fitness enthusiast, I know all too well the struggle to fit exercise into my daily routine. Parents are often faced with sacrificing our own activities for those of our children. The worst thing we can do for ourselves and our family is to let our busy lives keep us from being active. It did not take long after the birth of my first child to realize that if I was going to be physically active, I was going to have to include him. It might sound like a complete nightmare to include a newborn in physical activity, but it has proven to be quite the contrary. As soon as my doctor cleared me for physical activity, I began putting my baby in the stroller and going for 30-45 minute walks. This proved to be excellent nap time for my baby and excellent exercise for me! Pretty soon those walks turned into runs, and as he got older, I was able to plan his long naps around my “long runs.” On the weekends, he would take the best naps while I got to hit the pavement for a run!
Of course, running may not be your thing, and your children might be way beyond “stroller age.” Even if you are not a fitness enthusiast, you are an example for your children. As parents, it is vital that we teach our children the importance of being physically active. We have this awesome responsibility to make fitness a part of our family’s routine. The easiest way to do that is by doing it together! No matter what your family dynamics, there are numerous ways you can be fit as a family.
Let’s talk about some ways you and your family can be “fit” together.
Encourage your children to participate in organized sports, either through school or a local organization. Sports like basketball, soccer and baseball will not only get children up and moving, but they can also help them learn the value of being on a team. You can also use practice or game time as an opportunity for you to be active. Next time your child has a game or practice, walk or jog around the playing field. You can watch your child and get some exercise. That’s a win, win!
Not all kids are fans of organized sports, which is perfectly fine! If your child would rather watch television or play a video game, consider interactive video games like “Dance Revolution.” Just make sure you set limits on how much screen time they have per day.
Have a family game night and, when weather permits, take it outdoors for a game of tag, frisbee, bocce ball or even hide and seek. These are all fun outdoor activities that will get your family moving. They won’t even realize they are exercising! If you really get into some of those games, you will break a serious sweat!
Here are other fun ways your whole family can be active together:
- Play tag or red rover
- Backyard football, soccer etc.
- Participate in 1-mile fun runs
- Go for a family hike/picnic
- Walk a family pet
- Go bike riding as a family
- Jump on a trampoline
- Go for a swim
- Consider skiing, water sports or hiking for older kids
There are two very important things to remember when it comes to family fitness. First, be sure to choose activities everyone enjoys, and mix things up to meet everyone’s personality. Second, have fun! Fitness does not have to be work! Anytime I talk to someone who is ready to begin an exercise program, but they aren’t sure where to start, I tell them to find something they enjoy. If you do not enjoy the activity, you will not continue to do it. The same is true for your family. Think of something you know your family enjoys doing together, and find a way to fit that into your routine. Your body and your family will thank you!