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Family Exercise – Play Together

The family that plays together, stays FIT together.

This weekend, we’re discussing ways for families to incorporate together time and fitness.  Physical activity shouldn’t be a chore or a dreaded event.  Just like turning room clean-up into a game becomes more fun for the child (and the parent who’s spared of the disobedience or whining), physical activity where the entire family participates can be a fun experience where beautiful memories and healthy habits are created.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 percent of children (over 9 million) 6-19 years old are overweight or obese — a number that has tripled since 1980.  Over the past three decades the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled for preschool children aged 2-5 years and adolescents aged 12-19 years, and it has more than tripled for children aged 6-11 years.

Experts agree that inactivity and poor eating habits contribute to obesity. While national guidelines recommend 150 minutes of physical activity each week for elementary children and 225 minutes for older children, only Illinois has a statewide requirement for daily physical education.

Why rely on the government to give your child his daily dose of exercise?  As a parent, I kinda feel like it’s my responsibility to teach my child how to live a strong and healthy life–I don’t think anyone else can do a better job with that than my husband and me.

Here’s three suggestions for families to engage in physical fitness while enjoying time together:

  • Go on a weekly nature hike. If you live in an area with varying terrain, the hike alone with increase the breathing and heart rate while giving everyone’s legs a good climbing workout.  If you live in a relatively flat area, then incorporate speed drills.  Run or race to a specific tree or marker that’s 10 or 20 feet away, and then walk, and repeat at varying markers throughout your route.

  • Go on a family bike ride. If you have older children who have bikes, then pick a route with minimal or no traffic.  If you have a bike trailer for smaller children, you can tow them in a low-traffic area.  They’ll learn to appreciate the time together and desire to exercise just like YOU!  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a bike trailer like the one *pictured above?

Do yoga or stretches together. Yoga for pregnant women, and post-partum moms is often a great way to help your body relax, and find balance with your constantly shifting center of gravity.  If you’re unsure of how to incorporate this back into your life once baby arrives, we’ll talk about some great tips for this later this weekend.

    • Do family calisthenics a few times a week. These are good, old-fashioned exercises such as jumping jacks, skipping, galloping, jumping across one end of the backyard to another.  If you’re familiar with other calisthenics, use those, too: crunches, push-ups, pull-ups.  Make it a game and do it together as a family.  Laugh, have fun, and encourage one another.

    A basic calisthenic exercise that small children usually do perfectly and innately by the time they learn to walk is the squat.  As they get a little older, children tend to forget how to do a perfect squat since they don’t do it all the time…well, at least not in our culture.  Kids and adults in several countries in Asia perform perfect squats their entire lives.Why is it important to learn how to do a good squat?

    The squat is a basic movement that we perform our entire lives.

    • We often bend down to pick something up, and then stand up.
    • Small children naturally squat with their feet flat on the ground, and then stand up using their stronger thigh, buttocks, and leg muscles.
    • Over time, we incorporate less of our strong thigh and buttocks muscles, and rely more on bending over with our backs.
    • Improper execution of this simple task can lead to wear and tear on the joints and discs in the low back over the course of time, resulting in back muscle strain, sciatica (or sharp/numb radiating back pain), and low back disc problems.

    Want to learn how to teach your kids the proper form for a squat?  Actually, do YOU want to learn a simple method to do a perfect squat?  Watch this 5 minute video by Crossfit instructor Jeff Martin (complete with two cute kids).

    YOUR TURN:  In what ways do you incorporate fitness into your family routine?

    Subscribe // Twitter me: drdolly
    *Bicycle image above by Kamyar Adl via Flickr
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    2 Responses

    1. I came across your website and like this posting that addresses the importance of families spending time together and being good healthy role models.

    2. Enjoyed learning about your organisation. I would like to use the family bike ride picture on posters for a sponsored bike ride for the Lincolnshire Churches Trust. Would that be alright?

      Best wishes

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