Life before kids is such sweet sorrow; I used to take care of myself and exercise, up with the dawn for a refreshing run along the seashore. When my boy was born, I was up with the dawn running back and forth changing diapers. So ended the days of the refreshing oceanside runs.
Then a few months later when he was six months old, I had an epiphany: he wakes up early, I wake up early, why not sit him in the stroller and restart my sorely missed morning exercise routine? The fresh sea breeze was healthy for the both of us, and ever since I've found that we were both in a better mood after our morning date. When he started walking, we continued our routine but walked at his pace instead. He loved it!As a parent you know that exercising and engaging in physical activity when you have kids, especially infants and toddlers, mostly falls by the wayside. As most parents have hectic schedules, it’s not easy to find time for fitness and exercise. It's easy to slip into inactivity with our very full lives. But what if you were to turn family time into exercise time and engage your children in healthy ways? What if you could exercise and spend time with your children?
Model a Fit and Healthy Lifestyle
Kids emulate their parents, and if they see that you are active and willing to engage, they will be less inclined to be a sedentary couch potato. Being a parent means being a leader, and a leader leads by example. Today isn’t just another day; it’s a day at camp. Pretend to be your children’s first camp counselor!
Dr. Ron Eaker, M.D., OB-GYN, author of Fat-Proof Your Family
Exercising with your children reprograms them to make the distinction between what is normal and what is not.
In the sedentary lifestyle that today’s children lead, spending hours on a TV, Xbox or computer may seem normal to them. However, that view is a skewed perception of normal. Even much of the American public school system reinforces a sedentary practice by providing fewer opportunities for physical activity. Many parents don’t realize that physical education in school has been cut so drastically that kids no longer get the same exercise opportunities they had when they were kids.
Encouraging your children into physical exercise and sports will also strengthen your bond with them. Marathon runner Kate Carter who is a mother of two told Tootsa that it’s important to give children a love of exercising early on, without the pressure of achievement or competition. That way children learn to love it for what it is: a fun activity that strengthens their bodies and minds, rather than a chore. Getting fit as a family doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym, it can be anything from a walk in the park to a hike in the woods or a run down to the library.
Parents.com in their article, "10 Ways to Exercise as a Family" points out that building a walk into your daily schedule ensures that exercise won’t get put off. Staying outdoors should be encouraged because it provides young children the opportunity to explore and learn about their environment.
Len Saunders is the author of "Keeping Kids Fit" and a major advocate in the fight against childhood obesity, which has tripled in the last few decades. Saunders believes that by setting the foundations of life, parents are the primary source that affect the way children feel about a healthy lifestyle. Through engaging with your children in exercise, you’re not only teaching them the value of a healthy lifestyle, but also strengthening family bonds and traditions. The benefits of exercise are boundless for both adults and children: from fighting heart disease, obesity, and circulatory problems by reducing stress. Children who exercise tend to be better students and learn to manage school stresses more effectively. Adults will also find that they have increased energy levels, which will help them be better parents and perform better at their jobs.
With baby number two on the way, my boy is now three years old and still comes out with me every morning. In fact, when he gets up early in the morning, the first thing he does is come into our room and asks, “Mama, are we going to the ocean today?” Guess what my answer is? Every morning.
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