Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Healthy Family - Part 1 - Exercise

I have 2 young boys, ages 5 and 6 1/2. Like most boys (and many young girls as well) they are a little like puppy dogs. You MUST run them and exercise them or they become extremely restless and begin to bounce off the walls. Maybe not the walls. But they bounce off the furniture, for sure. The thing is, while we as adults are able to contain our restless energy a little better than our children, our bodies still need daily movement.

It's interesting that one of the very common excuses I hear as a personal trainer when it comes to exercise is, "I don't have time". This is often rivaled by, "I work and my kids are in school so I feel guilty taking the time away from them to exercise." I get that. Of course, there is always an option to get up early and do a workout in the morning before the kids wake up, but some people are just not morning exercisers.

So how do we find time to exercise while not taking time away from our family? I would like to offer some suggestions.
  • Have a dance party. I'm not kidding. Put on fun, upbeat songs (like "Everything is Awesome" from the Lego Movie)(Now that's going to be stuck in your head all day. You are welcome.) and dance around the house. Have the kids help you make a playlist of cool songs. If they are old enough, let them operate the iPod and tell them to pause the music every so often and everyone has to freeze until the music starts again. If the music is playing, everyone is moving! You can pick a "leader" who chooses which movement everyone has to do during the song. 
  • Have the kids help you make a circuit in your house. Let them create stations (like jumping jacks, frog jumps, push ups, running the stairs etc) and have them make signs for the stations that you can reuse each time you do this. Place the stations throughout the house (or outside if the weather permits) and use a stopwatch or your phone to time the stations (for 30 - 60 seconds). If the kids are old enough, let them run the timer. You can even give them a bell or a whistle to indicate when time is up. Include them as much as possible. 
  • Take a walk as a family. 
  • Go to a track and have a race.
  • Find a kids exercise program on television and do it with them. I have Comcast and we can On Demand some great yoga for kids programs. The boys and I did that one day and they absolutely LOVED it!
  • Take the kids to a trampoline or bounce house facility (if you have one in your area) and PLAY WITH THEM. Kids will have a great time anyway, but if you are actually jumping with them, they will enjoy it even more. 
  • Hide a small object (stuffed animal or a ball) and have a race throughout the house (or yard, if weather permits) to see who can find it first. Everyone takes turns getting to hide the object. 
  • If your children are older, find an exercise class you can take together. Maybe hip hop dancing or yoga?
  • If your children are younger, take them to a park and take turns choosing an animal. Next, everyone has to move around like that animal for 1 minute. Trust me, 1 minute of frog jumping will wear you out!! Animal suggestions: walk like a bear, hop like a bunny, jump like a frog, crawl like a lizard, run fast like a cheetah etc etc.
  • Get a Nerf gun for every member of the family. Play Nerf Wars, which basically means, everyone runs around trying not to get hit by the Nerf bullet. Play outside at a park (weather permitting) or run around your yard.
I could go on for about a hundred more points, but maybe I will save some for a future post. The bottom line is, PLAY is a great form of exercise. Your children watch everything you do. They will mimic and they will learn from your example. So much of it is in how you sell it. If you complain about exercise and treat it as a chore rather than celebrating movement, children will take on the same attitude. If you can get excited and treat it as an opportunity to spend time together as a family having fun, this will be the lesson they will learn.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful! Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post which will be all about families and healthy eating.

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