These days, it seems there is just never enough time, right? With juggling your job, civic and church responsibilities, squeezing in kids' extracurricular activities, who has time for exercise, right? Wrong!
Staying fit and healthy is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family. As parents, we need to exercise daily as much for our own as for our children's well-being.
Like it or not, we are the living examples and role models for our children. Contrary to popular belief, parents, not pop stars, have the most influence over children's lives.
Children who live in homes where parents smoke are more likely to become smokers. Parents who abuse alcohol or drugs are more likely to discover that their children inevitably succumb to the same fate. We see these same vicious generational cycles with domestic violence, low self-esteem, and low literacy rates.
On the flip slide, parents who read books are more likely to discover their children read books, too. Parents who eat a healthy diet find their offspring have a preference for healthier foods, too. And, yes, active parents are more likely to produce children who enjoy an active lifestyle.
So, parents, you need to encourage an active lifestyle by keeping active and setting aside time daily to exercise with your children. When it comes to modeling an active lifestyle, just keep it simple. The kids don't need a gym membership, but do take a walk in the park, make time for the playground, or just dance in the living room. Most of all, maintaining an active lifestyle should be fun and bring joy -- and better health -- to the whole family.
To help you prioritize family fitness in your busy lifestyle, here are a few of my suggestions on exercises you can do from birth to high school graduation.
As long as their doctors say they have no contraindications, expectant mothers should exercise throughout their pregnancies and introduce their newborns to exercise when they're infants. Impossible? Not at all.
For example, hold your infant in your arms while you do toning exercises like squats or lunges.
For upper-body work, place your infant on a blanket on the floor facing you as you do push-ups (standard or modified on your knees). Be sure to give your baby a sweet little kiss during the eccentric contraction (when you are lowering your body toward the floor).
Get a BabyBjorn carrier or baby backpack carrier and go for daily walks outdoors. Daily walks with an old-fashioned stroller or a jogging stroller (if you're more ambitious) are great. Just get out and get moving.
Toddlers love to move and mimic whatever we do. Take this time to delight in their dancing. They love nothing more than being your partner.
Parks and playgrounds are perfect for toddlers who love running around and exploring their environment. They'll give you a good run, too. So, no slacking, you've got to keep up!
From 5 to 15
After you put on their training wheels, go ahead and hop on your own bike and ride side by side. Ice skating, in-line skating, and roller skating are also activities kids can enjoy with their parents.
If rolling around on wheels is not your thing, have your child teach you the latest dance craze. All children are natural choreographers and they will love to teach their parents the Whip and the Nae Nae.
Teen to Adulthood
At this age, you can do practically any fitness or sports routines together, and most gyms (with parental consent) allow teens to be included on a family membership. If gyms are not your thing, no problem, get everybody together for a power walk, a leisure stroll, volleyball, or one-on-one basketball.
It's never too early to make fitness a family affair, and you and your children will be healthier and happier. Remember, the family that plays together stays together!