Exercise With Your Child Week
A recent Wall Street Journal article described how parents are competing with their spouses to get their early morning workouts in. Taking an hour on the yoga mat or hitting the trail for a run helps parents maintain their mental and physical health while trying to balance home, work, and social responsibilities. While time alone is something many parents wouldn't ever want to give up, there are many benefits to exercising with your children.
It's Exercise With Your Child Week, so I took some time to reflect on what being active with my daughters has meant to me, and on the ways that families can exercise together.
One afternoon this past summer, I took my 14-year-old daughter to experience a barre class together for the first time. To my surprise, we did well and didn't need any extra assistance from the instructor. As we all know, most teens don't enjoy spending time with their moms, however this was a way for us to bond and she has agreed that she would love to continue the exercise adventure with me. I'm thrilled that we've found an activity that strengthens our bodies and our relationship.
My 10-year-old is an enthusiastic yogini and can even hold crow pose for a solid minute. Her drive and determination for life has been a true inspiration for my career change from speech pathology into the athletic retail world.
Just like us, our children need exercise too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity has nearly doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the last 30 years. Obesity leads to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It also leads to rough relationships with peers and self-esteem issues. Active kids, like active adults, feel better about themselves. They build healthy bones, muscles, joints, and even experience improved sleep.
Exercising together can be fun for everyone. And, it's a great way for you to get your workout in if you spouse scored the early morning time slot. Here are some exercise ideas that you can do with your children. Additionally, ask them what they'd like to do. You're likely to find more activities that you can add to the list.
Choose activities that make you breathe harder and make your heart beat faster. This strengthens the heart and improves the delivery of oxygen to all of your cells.
• Speed walking
• Ice skating
Building muscular endurance doesn't require lifting weights. Though, if you and your children are interested in hitting the weight room, check out these guidelines from the Mayo Clinic.
You can turn a trip to the park into a family workout session by incorporating some of these ideas.
• Bike to the local park — all the better if there are some hills involved.
• Cross the monkey bars
• Work toward pullups by holding your chin above the bar for as long as you can.
• Stage a friendly competition by seeing who can do the most pushups and crunches.
Flexibility is an often overlooked component of physical fitness. If you or your children are in activities that have a flexibility component, share what you know with each other. Your children will get a kick out of teaching you something. Yoga is particularly great for younger children because many of the pose names are inspired by animals so you can create a really fun practice by pretending to be animals together. Look for flexibility inspiration from:
• Martial arts
• Figure Skating
You can also create tons of family fun by inviting other families to join in on your activities. If you haven't gotten to know the parents of your children's friends, you could plan a hike and picnic or get enough people together for a team activity like kickball or soccer. If you're new to your community, or just haven't had the chance to plug in yet, Hello Mamas is a fantastic, free resource that can help you connect with like-minded moms in your area. If you are a military spouse, check out InDependent's on-line and in-person communities that will get you in touch with other spouses looking to thrive through health and wellness.
Regular exercise is one important key to a healthy lifestyle. Be a role model for your kids. Talk to them about your healthy choices. Invite them to exercise with you. You'll grow physically stronger together, and you might just find that your create stronger bonds along the way.
What is your favorite way to be active with your children?