The benefits of exercise are boundless. Exercising with your children is greatly beneficial for both you and them. It makes for great bonding time and sets a good example of healthy lifestyle choices from an early age. Incorporating your children into your active routine doesn’t need to be a workout at the gym, it can be something as simple as taking a walk or visiting a playground with other families, adding social interaction to the list of benefits.
Why the great importance? As a parent, it is our role to develop our children into happy and healthy adults to make their own way in the world. We do this through demonstrating good values and encouraging positive habits always being aware that they will copy our every move – from eating habits to social interactions and a range of other lifestyle choices. Therefore demonstrating positive and active lifestyle choices will lead them to value this in their lives.
Having three young sons myself, I can offer the following five tips for integrating exercise into your family routine and creating and maintaining a positive association with active lifestyle choices and exercise for you and your children:
What mum and dad do, the kids will do
It’s amazing to see the habits that children pick up from their parents; I’ve heard many funny stories of sometimes embarrassing habits or traits a child has latched onto from a parent. Use this to your advantage – make an effort to be active in your everyday life. For example, walk to the local shops rather than drive and include your children in these activities too.
Start them young
From a very young age, your child will be a sponge. Whether you are beginning active lifestyle changes or maintaining your existing ones as best you can when a new child arrives will not only be good for you but be good for them too. For example, you might look to integrate specific activities into your life that allow for bonding time, such as Back In Motion’s Mums & Bubs™ post natal classes. Instructed by a Physio, these small group classes include your child while specifically targeting abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
Be age appropriate
When your little one learns to stand on his or her own feet, take it slowly and help them manage their physical activity. If you’re looking to get your older kids more active, consider that shorter but more frequent bouts of movement are better than longer exhaustive sessions for little bodies.
Make it fun
Theme all physical activity in a fun way to excite and maintain your young child’s interest in exercise. This helps to create a positive attitude towards exercise rather than making it a chore. For example, start healthy competition in the ad break of their favourite tv show: who can complete the most star jumps before the program returns.
Make smart choices around the latest craze
Your child might be pestering for the latest video game, so keep them happy by investing in a product that promotes movement and activity such as a Wii. This is something that the whole family can enjoy and doesn’t mean your kids will be sitting for hours on end, rather, jumping and moving about.
While your children are young, integrate them into your lifestyle where you can – exercise and physical activity is only one area. Positive associations with healthy lifestyle choices will set them up for a happy and healthy future. For more advice, have a chat to your Physiotherapist.