“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental states.”
Spring is here with longer days, warmer weather and restless kids ready for the school year to be over. The carefree days of summer are closer than you think, when kids will be home all day with tons of energy! The first few days feel great as you enjoy the break from the routine and then as that becomes routine you start to feel restless. You haven’t been to the gym or had time for a good workout. You’re thinking of slipping out for a short run while your kids watch their favorite television show. We all need time to ourselves occasionally so enjoy it if you can manage that. If however you can’t or if you want to get your kids active, there are plenty of ways to involve them in your workout. In fact, they can teach you a few things to add to your routine.
My son loves to jump, tumble and parkour. He’s constantly asking me to follow his moves when we’re out walking or in the yard. On a recent school break we ventured out a couple of mornings to try some of his moves. We found picnic tables to use for dips, monkey bars for chin ups, stone walls for jumping over, and just plain grass for push ups. We added skipping and short, full blast runs in between sets. He was so excited to be the leader and to teach me something for a change that he forgot that I had gotten him out of bed at 7:30 am. His moves were great and I worked up a sweat! My body enjoyed the change and my son and I had some quality bonding time.
If you enjoy more traditional sports, bring a football or soccer ball with you to the nearest patch of grass. For a cardio workout, challenge your kids and yourself to run around the trees to catch the ball or do wind sprints every time you miss catching the football. Running to kick the soccer ball around is another great cardio workout! Besides the obvious physical benefits, introducing these sports early on to your kids will give them confidence to try out for a team or just instill the love of sports.
The best way to encourage your children to be physically active is to be a role model. Several studies have found that children of active parents tend to be more active (see Moore et al, 1991) and that participating with your children in physical activity strongly predicted their level of activity (DiLorenzo, 1998; Hovell et al, 1995).
Beyond being physically active, it’s your attitude that counts! Your positive attitude towards your own fitness influences how your children see physical activity. Find your fitness passion to help them find their motivation. In addition, be supportive in autonomous ways, i.e. allow your children to choose their activities, take their perspectives into account and encourage participation for pure enjoyment (Gaumond, 2000). After all, physical activity for both adults and children should feel like fun and play rather than a chore. This feeling will keep you and them coming back for more.
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