Author: Cherie Rivas
Let’s face it…. regardless of whether you’ve got one child, a whole tribe of kids, or you’re still in the planning stages…. you want to be an actively engaged parent and build a solid foundation that supports the health and happiness of each family member.
Mums and Dads will already know, that once kids become mobile, you need to be on your toes and on the ready at all times! Not only are kids constantly on the go, go, go…. but there’s also that added risk that they could literally bolt (beyond your safe reach), at any time!
Even as kids grow older, their natural instinct is to run and play…. and there’s no better feeling than hearing your kids laugh and cheer, when you join in that soccer game, jump rope with them, or go for a family bike ride!
As educators, mentors, heroes, supporters, and role models, your kids will innately believe that the behaviour you demonstrate is acceptable and appropriate (regardless of whether the broader community deems it ‘good’ or ‘bad’). Your children will watch your every move, and mirror your every action…. If you are sedentary, chances are, your children will be too.
On the flip-side though, when you eat healthy, maintain a positive mindset, and exercise regularly (especially when you exercise with your kids), you are teaching them many valuable life lessons. Not only are you teaching them how to live a happy and healthy lifestyle, but you are also reinforcing family bonds, creating wonderful memories and even establishing family traditions.
It’s also a fantastic opportunity for super-busy / time-poor parents, to get a great workout while spending quality time with the kids…. especially if one or the other would typically be sacrificed because of otherwise hectic schedules
Having a regular exercise program (or structured physical activities), isn’t just essential for adults, in fact it’s just as important for every child’s normal growth and development. The benefits of exercise are endless, and go deeper than just improving general fitness, building stronger bones and muscles, refining coordination and balance, and reducing unhealthy weight gain and other chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Children who exercise do better academically, and moving and playing every day can create great opportunities to connect and have fun with friends, reduce anti-social behaviours as well as support the development of comradery and peer support networks.
Getting involved in sports and other physical activities can also boost self-esteem and assist with the management of many mental and emotional challenges, including stress and anxiety.
When parents also prioritise exercise for themselves and practice what they preach, it reinforces to their children, that exercise is an important part of ‘normal everyday life’. Children will then be more naturally inclined to approach and accept exercise and physical activity with a more positive, open-minded attitude.
In fact, it is imperative for good health both short and long term, that families make time to exercise together. Incorporating it into the ‘normal routine’, will establish positive habits for life. Unfortunately though, many people will look at their family obligations as an obstacle to exercise, rather than an opportunity. Quite often issues such as, time, money or lack of equipment are blamed for not being able to regularly exercise… but sometimes, you simply need to ‘dream beyond the dumbbell’ (or think outside the square)!
The important thing to remember is that fitness isn’t all about just sweat and six-packs…. It’s actually about living with vibrant energy, confidence, self-love and positivity. Getting fit as a family doesn’t have to be time consuming or complex…. you can do it by exercising in the comfort of your own home, without the need for any specialised or expensive equipment… or you can try a whole range of other fun and creative ways:
Here’s 10 Great Ways to Build a Healthy Foundation:
- Dancing with the Fam: It’s even better than Dancing with the Stars! Download your favourite music app and crank up some fun with the family and friends! Jump around, do a shimmy, shake your limbs and have a giggle. With minimal effort, you can burn some calories, lift your spirits and have some great family time.
- Dust off the Push Bikes / Scooters: Pushbikes and scooters are great fun…. and because they’re so easy to ride, they’re perfect for all age groups. Although quite low impact in nature, the health benefits include the stretching and strengthening of most major muscle groups, increased cardiovascular fitness, effective weight management and improved mental health.
- Advercise: Most families settle in and watch a few hours of television each night, but it’s important to reduce sedentary time. Whenever an ad break comes on, take that opportunity to exercise together. Try jogging on the spot, push-ups, squats or even triceps dips. See who can do the most each ad break.
- Get Bouncing on Trampolines/Hopper Balls: These low impact rebound activities can improve cardiovascular fitness, strengthen bones and increase bone mass, burn energy and support weight management, and potentially increase lymphatic flow and improve the immune system.
- Try Techno-Play: Try interactive console games that reward points for accuracy be it dancing, boxing, golfing, playing tennis or bowling. Not only can they be a whole lot of fun for everyone in the family, but they can also bridge the generation gap.
- Family Olympics (Twister / Dodge Ball Tag / Frisbee): These classic games are perfect for kids (and parents alike), because they test balance, coordination and flexibility. Chasing and throwing games also add to improved cardiovascular fitness, eye-hand coordination, speed and agility.
- Make an Exercise Video: Most smart phones these days have a good quality video function. Have your family create their own exercise video where your kids are the stars. Everyone will get fitter creating the videos, as well as watching them over in the future.
- My Cubby Rules: Cubbies &/or forts can encourage jumping and climbing, as well as a whole range of other physical activities if other equipment such as swings, monkey bars or slippery dips are attached. Getting involved too, allows parents to get in touch with their inner-child.
- Adventure Passes: Try adventures beyond the boundaries of ‘regular’ outdoor activities. Consider a Tree Tops ropes course, a flying trapeze lesson, indoor rock climbing, a bushwalk in a National Park or even a season pass to a local adventure centre.
- Allocate Time for Family Exercise Every Day. It doesn’t have to be much…. something as simple as a walk before or after dinner or a game of soccer in the back yard. Do some yoga together or teach them how to program the treadmill if that’s what they’re keen to do.
Regardless of what you chose to do, the primary objective is to reduce the amount of sedentary time, increase the benefits of physical activity and exercise, and come together as a family for some fun and enjoyable bonding time. Each member will reap the rewards of better health by taking small steps consistently.
That’s sure you make you feel more confident and proud as a parent!
Still Need an Extra Boost?
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