With childhood obesity rates on the rise and more kids than ever experiencing what were once considered adult health problems, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that the sedentary lifestyle promoted by a glut of video games, television and electronic entertainment that is frequently paired with a fast food-centric diet is taking its toll on even the youngest members of the population. In addition to instilling good dietary habits in kids, however, one of the most important things a parent can do for their children is encourage a healthy level of physical activity. Here are 10 of the reasons why parents and kids should make a point of exercising together, both for fun and for fitness.
* Modeling Healthy Behavior – In order to truly show kids how important exercise is, you must be willing to put in the same amount of effort that you’re expecting. This is one area in which taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach simply won’t work, so be sure that you’re willing to practice what you’re so eagerly preaching.
* Making Sure That You Get Enough Exercise – Between juggling the demands of work and home, it’s not always easy to fit in a fitness routine. Exercising with your kids not only allows you to spend a bit of quality time with them while doing something you both enjoy, but also helps you to stay on schedule with your workout.
* To Ensure Safe Exercise Habits – Kids haven’t yet developed proper impulse control, and may be less capable of fully understanding the possible outcomes of risky behavior. As a result, it’s not uncommon for kids to attempt daredevil feats of strength or agility during active play. When you’re making a point of exercising together, however, you’ll be there to supervise and prevent some of their riskier impulses.
* Turning Family Fun Time into Family Fit Time – Everyone knows that spending time together as a family strengthens emotional bonds, which is why structured family game nights and family dinners are recommended. Instead of sitting down to a board game, why not try out one of the new group video games that promotes fitness? You’ll all be spending time together and enjoying a bit of activity that gets you out of your seat and onto your feet.
* Cutting the Competition Out of Fitness – When kids’ main source of physical activity is competitive sports participation, it’s not uncommon for them to equate working out with competition. When you exercise together, you can stress the importance of activity for fun and enjoyment, rather than an exclusive end goal of winning.
* Defining “Normal” For Young Children – Making a point of engaging in physically active play with your children from the time they’re very young is a way to effectively define “normal” for them and for your family. When exercising is simply part of the daily routine, kids are more likely to stick to their active habits as they get older.
* Forging Bonds With Older Kids – It’s not always easy to find common ground with a tween or teen, which is where a shared love of a particular sport or activity can come in handy. Spending time with your older child doesn’t have to be a struggle, especially when you’re sweating it out together.
* Building Discipline and Dedication – Kids need to learn the value of dedication and discipline from a young age in order to become successful, independent adults. Setting fitness goals and working together to achieve them helps kids understand the importance of hard work and making a concerted effort to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves.
* Providing Kids With Incentive and Direction to Exercise – While kids do need plenty of unstructured active play, working out as a family can provide kids with a bit of much-needed direction and an incentive to get moving. When you’ve established a routine of exercising together, you’ll also have an incentive to continue along your own path to fitness.
* Achieving Goals as a Family – It’s often said that the family who plays together stays together, but there’s also something to be said for working towards a shared goal and making that goal a reality. Working out with your kids is a great way to not only help them understand the importance of making an effort to achieve your dreams, but also the sweetness of a shared victory.
– Submitted by Emma Roberts of Summer Nanny