The motto of “Do as I say and not as I do” has never worked well with children. They always seem to pick up our worst habits, forcing us to face parts of our lives that we can improve upon.
Exercise and physical activity are no different. If you want your child to be physically active and value that, exercise as essential to their health. Which it is. Then you need to get up and get your body moving too.
According to Dr. Brenda Singal, a pediatrician with York Pediatric Medicine, “Being a good role model – that is the number one job for parents. The kids are seeing you from sun up to sun down, and they’re watching you and picking up on your cues.”
Therefore, it is important for parents to set a good example when it comes to exercise and healthy eating.
Current couch potatoes become rooted in place and produce little spuds just like them. Active kids become active adults. It is that simple.
Teaching Your Children How to be Healthy
Exercising with your children provides you as a parent an excellent opportunity. You can develop a great sense of camaraderie and companionship and provides a chance to bond. It is a valuable way to spend your time.
In addition to being a positive role model and creating the image of health, fitness, and wellness your children can model, you stay fit. It is a win-win situation.
It is important to schedule time to exercise with your children so that nothing will interfere with those set workout times. Think of times such as before or after school and work, in the evening just before dinner, or even on weekends if that is all you can find.
You can both exercise doing the same activity or each pursue your own interests. The important thing is spending time together working on becoming healthier. As long as you enjoy what you are doing, it will be easy for both you and your children to commit to do them on a regular basis.
Follow these workouts with a healthy snack or meal and talk to your children about healthy nutrition and exercise. Explain to them that their physical health affects more than just their body but also their mental and emotional health and their social acuity.
Often, children will lose interest in physical activity if they feel that they are less than other kids their age. For example, when they are always chosen last or fail to make a school sports team. There is a huge emphasis put of being the “star” athlete both in schools and in the media.
Instead, emphasize to your child that the pure joy of exercise or playing a sport coupled with the myriad of health benefits of leading an active lifestyle. Focus on the individual bests and improvements that you and your child make. Show them how to be in competition with themselves rather than the world.
Making sure that your children know that you are proud of them for their physical activity and their dedication to being healthy rather than their awards and trophies will teach them to love challenging themselves physically. It will help to build a lifelong passion for exercise and physical health.
Suggestions for Working Out with Your Children
Combine these to suit the unique needs and tastes of your children and yourself.
- Take an aerobics class or buy a tape for home.
- Play tennis.
- Learn and practice Tai Chi or Yoga
- Go to the track and run
- Shoot baskets, or practice another team sport such as soccer, basketball, or volleyball
- Take a hike in the woods
- Weight lifting or cardio work in a gym, either at home or elsewhere
- Go swimming
- Play golf or just walk the course
- Do heavy bag work or practice martial arts
- Take a walk or jog outside
- Play catch or high fly balls at the batting cages
- Go for a bike ride
Don’t forget, making an activity a family affair always adds something fun and new to the mix.
Wrapping It Up
Dr. Singal’s advice for parents is to, “Take care of you first. Then you can take better care of your family. Make sure that you are eating right, exercising, and feel good about yourself because it all goes together and your kids see that.”