I recently received an email from a client of mine titled: “Asking the Fitness Expert”. My Northern Virginia personal training client was looking for exercise and fitness related activity ideas for a co-worker to do with her children.
What I responded with I later realized would be great to share with all parents. Here are some quick and easy ideas that you can start to implement with your family today. Remember like anything, consistency is key.
In general I love family activities like getting the kids to go on bike rides as a family and in the nicer months taking them to a playground and creating an obstacle course using the equipment. You can even set up little races around the park or play tag with the kids and incorporate pushups off the jungle gym.
I also make my kids walk the dog with me and on days they complain too much I might push my daughter for a bit in the stroller for an extra workout on my part. It takes time for the little ones to build up their endurance but they eventually do!
My kids complained a lot in the beginning, but little by little they built up to quite a long walk with little to no complaints. Often the kids ride on their scooters while I walk or jog the dog. The entire family benefits from the fresh outdoor air and we get our exercise in together.
Another fun thing we do that is bonding and active is to have dance parties at night. We turn the music on and each of us gets to pick our 2-3 favorite songs and dance our hearts out. Don’t kid yourself, you really work up a sweat and have a great time while you’re at it.
It’s most important that as a parent you lead by example. It’s also important that the kids see you taking care of yourself. If you infuse your workouts into family time you can all do it together and it can be fun -that part is most important for kids -they need it to be FUN – the don’t like forced punishment of exercise like us adults
Creating soccer games outside during the nicer weather or starting a garden are also excellent activities.
Also, cooking lessons in the kitchen like letting them each create their own smoothie by experimenting with different fruits and veggies are all excellent ideas. Kids are much more apt to try and like something they cooked themselves. You can’t just tell your kids what to do – as a parent leading by example is really the only way to instill life long habits.
In the course of leading by example and infusing these things into your every day life, Mom and Dad should notice their own health improving.
Exercise can be done in small chunks throughout the day and 20 mins of dancing is fabulous exercise for the day – especially if exercise was non-existent before. Small gradual steps are best. Try infusing one new activity ever 2-3 weeks and build it into the schedule. Before you know it it will become routine and your entire family will be healthier and happier!