this blog is brought to you by guest contributor Zyana Morris, Health and Lifestyle blogger.
Exercise can be a family affair that teaches life-long skills promoting healthy practices and healthy lifestyle choices. Kids will model what they see in their parents, and if they are not going with you to the gym they simply won’t know that exercise is a part of your daily routine.
Working out and exercising together is a major part of modeling healthy behavior and showing children that work and effort goes into maintaining a healthy body and spirit.
Alongside exercise we need to model healthy eating habits as well – because no amount of exercise is enough without consuming the proper nutrients, vitamins, and calories to replenish our systems and keep us growing, healing, and thriving.
Eating to become more not less
Children are constantly growing and we need to encourage them to eat sufficient amounts of nutrient dense foods in order to meet their nutritional needs and give their bodies the building blocks they need to grow strong bones, teeth, muscles, and other organs. If taught that food is fuel and nutrients and minerals are building blocks at an early age, they will have a better understanding of how food fits into their life as adults – as the fuel that keeps them going and achieving their goals, and not a hindrance to them.
Make exercise fun, not punishment
There are thousands of activities that are fun family games – and get the blood pumping as well; from Twister ™ to swimming, Frisbee™ to bicycling, and everything in between. If your kids are too young to participate in an activity full-force, just tow them along in a seat or have them participate from the sidelines. If you can’t yet get them active in certain sports and activities, you can begin by getting them interested and aware of the fact that you exercise, prepping them for what’s to come.
It’s important to teach our children that exercise is challenging, rewarding (physically and emotionally) and fun – not punishment for overeating or other mistakes. We need to train them to see physical activity as a reward in and of itself, a physical challenge to meet and overcome, and one that grows character as well.
Some additional ideas of fun family-centered physical fitness activities include:
- Miniature golf
- Roller or in-line skating
- Color runs, mud runs, and other “messy” marathons
- Run- and walk-a-thons
- Kite festivals
- Frisbee festivals
- Music festivals (if you’re dancing)
- River rafting
- Mountain biking
- Rock climbing
- Dance classes
- Martial arts training
The list is endless! Pretty much anything you can do to get yourself moving on a daily basis you can also do (in modified ways, of course) with your kids as well. When they’re old enough you can even throw on some heat-shaping workout clothes and hit the gym to weight train together (albeit with them using modified and lighter free-weights) or take advantage of any offered all-ages classes.
The importance of modeling behaviors
Remember, children love to copy their parents – and we’re the models for the types of behaviors we want to see in them. Teach them by example that food is fuel for the daily activities you accomplish: that consumption of nutrients, vitamins, and calories keeps you going and keeps you thriving on a daily basis. Get out there and be active – taking them along with you – and they’ll grow into happy, healthy, balanced, fit, and sensible adults.