Seems many of us lean on a long list of excuses to avoid exercising. Kids shouldn’t be one of these excuses. On the surface, kids may feel like a valid reason not to work out. You have to find someone to watch them, right? Not always. It’s easy to include children and it does wonders for their lifelong health too, not just yours.
Kids who exercise regularly have stronger muscles and bones. Inactivity at an early age is a recipe for becoming overweight or obese, developing diabetes, or getting high blood pressure and cholesterol later in life. Allergies, autoimmune disorders, and poor immune systems are also more likely in kids who aren’t active. We learn some of our best and worst habits as children, from the foods we eat to the activities we pursue to the mental challenges we tackle. The mind gets a huge lift from exercise too. Active kids have a better outlook on life, are less likely to be depressed, and get a boost to mental functions, including focus and memory.
Stroll – Take a quick walk. Babies and toddlers can be exhausting to keep up with and take care of, but they are actually the easiest to incorporate into exercise routines. They can be strapped into jogging strollers. You can alternate between stroller time and walking for toddlers. Bike trailers are another way to take them along with you while you get in shape. The fresh air will do both of you a lot of emotional and mental good as well. Carriers are another way to take them on hikes and walks too, but they also are perfect for lunges or squats. The extra weight will help your workouts do more, faster. Encourage your kids to help walk the dog as they get older, or simply join you for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood. Go for bike rides together when they are older or invest in a bike trailer if they are young.
Music – Kids love music and it gets them moving. There’s nothing more adorable than your little one wiggling to their favorite tune. You can join in too and dance your way to a healthier you. Pop in something you know will get you and your kids moving and enjoy the fun.
TV Time – Plopping yourself or your kids in front of a TV isn’t the healthiest activity, but there are ways you can take advantage of your television to improve the health of your family. Pop in a fitness video. There are many that take only ten to twenty minutes. You can keep an eye on the kids or invite the older ones to join you. Video games can help too. There are so many now that encourage movement and exercise as part of the game play. Take advantage of those. Make commercials a game where you hop up and do something active with your kids. Dance, jump rope, stretch, march in place, hop, skip, and have fun.
Babysitter – Sometimes you need to take a moment and focus purely on yourself. Hire a local babysitter for an hour so you can go to the kickboxing or yoga class you’ve always wanted to try. Go for a hike without the distractions or worry that normally accompany the activity. Or, if you need to focus on your mind more than your body, enjoy some meditation, a massage, or even a good book this time.
Active Play Date – Invite your kid’s friends to the park to enjoy games, sports, play tag, climb trees or on the playground, and more. Don’t forget to join in for your own dose of cardio. Teach them the games you grew up on, like Red Light/Green Light, Sharks and Minnows, Red Rover, 500, and even Duck Duck Goose. Go swimming, play catch, introduce them to kickball, have fun, and be active together. If your kids are younger, let them crawl around with each other. You can squeeze in exercises while they do or during nap time.
Class – There are plenty of classes that include your kids. Enroll in a Mommy or Daddy and Me class that lets you work out together. It will be a fun, grown-up activity for your kids and a stress reliever for you. You can always sign up for a class on your own and schedule it around when your kids will be in karate, playing soccer, dancing, or participating in some activity of their own. When you are watching their games, don’t just sit there. Pace the sidelines during their games, practice with them at home, be involved.
Fitness Night – Set one day a week as your family fitness day and let your kids decide what you do now and again. They will appreciate being involved, learn some planning skills, and everyone stays healthy while having fun. There are hundreds of ideas out there from capture the flag to scavenger hunts to a simple game of hide and seek. Make these nights a tradition your kids will always remember fondly and incorporate into their own families someday. Teens may need a little more coaxing, but they appreciate it later. Sign up for a 5k fun run as a family. Get a gym membership together and use it. Hit the rec center for basketball, racquetball, volleyball, and swimming. Join a yoga or tai chi class together.
Chores – Do chores as a family and make them fun. Clean the house, rake leaves, pull weeds, and more. Turn them into games. Pull all the dandelions first and the person with the most wins. Pretend the floor is lava and you must save all your toys by putting them in the special lava-proof toy chest. These can be fun, work, and exercise at the same time.
Gardening – Gardening is a great way to keep yourself and your family healthy in many ways. It is exercise, fun, work, and it provides fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs for you to use in healthier meal options. Include your kids. They will feel included and will be more likely to actually eat the things they helped grow, even broccoli. Children who garden eat healthier throughout their lives, even once they leave the nest.
Games – We have a whole article dedicated to game ideas. Use them. Enjoy them. Have healthy, active, fun moments with your children. They grow up fast and you want to have the best memories to hold on to when they are out of the house.
Once the kids are off to college, marriage, travelling the world, or what have you, stay active. The mind and body depend on your circulatory systems to remain healthy. You want to continue being a part of their lives for many years to come.
All in all, the benefits outweigh any excuses. Your and your children’s health, mood, wellness, and well-being are at stake. Don’t forget to keep it fun and make it a seamless part of your life. Your children will look forward to those family fitness days. It’s true that they may occasionally grumble and they may never thank you for all the planning and effort you put into keeping them active, but all of you will live longer, happier, healthier lives. That’s thanks enough.
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