Exercising as a family

Exercising as a family

The proven benefits of leading an active life are well known. Yet the reality of achieving the recommended 30 minutes a day of physical activity seems impossible for so many, especially those with a family.

With parenthood comes an interesting yet real paradox. On one hand, our life is so busy that in order to fulfil our responsibilities as a parent, especially a working one, we don’t have time for regular workouts. Yet on the other hand, if we don’t exercise regularly, it hinders our ability to be the best parent we can be, both physically and mentally.

As a working mother of two young children, I completely understand the challenge of scheduling exercise into life. However with my kids being my biggest motivator, I know I must find the time.

How do I achieve this?

I no longer view my parenting responsibilities as a roadblock to achieving fitness goals. I have chosen to schedule exercise time with my children, instead of around them. This provides both physical and emotional benefits for the whole family by allowing for quality time and family bonding, whilst gaining the benefits of physical activity.

Just as, or perhaps more importantly, when you lead an active lifestyle, you help inspire your children to be active. Research shows that parents are their childrens' most influential role model and they are more likely to do what you do, than do what you say. With children and teens less active than ever, spending much of their downtime watching TV, on computers or playing video games, exercising as a family provides even further benefit.

If you think you are too busy to exercise regularly, here are some ways to overcome it by getting fit with your family:

Bond with your baby through exercise (children 0-2)

Don’t wait till your baby is asleep to fit in your exercise. Exercise with your baby by using him/her as resistance or interaction. For example push up kisses, or squats holding your baby. For 48 ways you can work-out with your baby check out www.babyweights.com.au

Embrace your inner child and play with your kids (children 2-12)

Focus on having fun. With younger kids, have fun with them in the local playground. Climb on the monkey bars with them, push them on the swings, climb the frames with them. As they become more physically capable, play games that encourage movement such as hopscotch, chasey, hide and seek, jump rope, hula hoop, trampoline jumping, frisbee and ball games. For older kids, set up some challenges.

For example, see who can balance on one leg the longest, or crab crawl races. Let your imagination have some fun. Most kids love challenging their parents and they will not even realise they are exercising.

Encourage functional exercise (children 4-18)

Do physical activity that has a purpose. As a family you can walk the dog, ride bikes to do local errands, weed the garden, hand wash the car, do house chores, walk, ride or scoot to school, etc.

Have a Boogie (all ages)

Pump the music and have a dance in your living room. No matter what age dancing is a great way to move your body. It will also bring the added benefit of laughing together.

Pool play (children 5-18)

As an adult you might think of swimming laps when you think of exercising in the pool, but there are lots of ways to exercise in the water. Practice your handstands with your kids. Instead of just throwing objects in the water for your kids, dive down with them to collect them, have them ride on your back as you swim through the water, have jumping races in the shallow end, and play pool games like Marco Polo.

Train together. (children 10-18) 

If you have older kids, go on runs or brisk walks together. As an extra motivator, measure and time your runs/walks. For the more adventurous, try rock climbing or rollerblading. You can also involve your younger kids while you train by having them ride their bikes while you walk or jog.

By joining your children in daily physical activity, you’ll all benefit from spending quality time together as well as the obvious health benefits. A family that exercises together, stays happy and healthy together.