In this day and age, it can be hard to get kids to leave their rooms and their consoles and go outside. We all know that regular exercise has a whole host of benefits, but trying to convince your children to do anything because it’s good for them is a losing battle. Just look at all the vegetables left on the plates at dinner and how often have you seen a kid ask for water over coke? It’s tough. But there are things you can do to encourage an active lifestyle and the best way to do it is to lead by example.
Going For A Walk
Believe it or not, walking is one of the best forms of exercise you can do for your body. It’s also incredibly easy so it’s within reach of any fitness level. This is a great way to bond with your family as well as you have time to just talk to them as you stroll. Ask your kids about their day, make dream plans with your partner, talk about things that worry you. There’s no distractions from each other and you’re not exercising so hard you can’t hold a conversation, but you are improving your fitness while nurturing the relationships within your family.
Start this at a young age and take your baby out for walks in a baby backpack carrier. This way, you all get some fresh air and your baby gets used to going for walks and grows up thinking this is a regular thing to do. No coaxing or bribing required later in life to get them off the couch! This can also be beneficial with a new-born baby as finding ways to exercise with a mini you is tough. You’re need some physical recovery time before going back to a workout programme and you don’t have the time to make it to the gym. It’s also a great chance for you and your partner to check in with each other as having a baby is hectic and you may find that you don’t seem to have as much time with each other as you once did.
Going For A Run
Running is something that most young children do anyway. However, when they get older, it becomes less cool to run around. If you are a runner, try asking your child if they want to come with you when you go. They’ll probably say no the first few times, but soon it’ll start to sound appealing. Especially if it’s something you do anyway and not something being inflicted on them for their own good. When you have children, running can become difficult to fit in.
If you’re like my friends who “accidentally” run half marathons because they get lost and just keep running, then finding the time to go after having a baby or with your kids running around can be difficult. One way to fit it in is to take them with you. Of course, they can’t run with you and keep up, but now we have some awesome jogging strollers. My friend uses this when her little girl is due a nap so she can sleep in the stroller and my friend still gets her run in without having to arrange a babysitter or lose time with her husband by waiting until he gets home from work. Again, starting this habit when they are super young will encourage your kids to be more active as they grow.
Family Camping Trip
Going on a family camping trip can tick a whole load of boxes all at once. It’s counted as a holiday, but doesn’t cost you 4 flights and multiple hotel rooms. It provides family bonding time without TV and laptops and other electronic distractions. It gets you all out in nature, breathing fresh air, walking more and just generally moving around. All you need is a great tent and a reasonably level patch of grass.
Camping can also trick your kids into doing other activities like fishing, hiking and climbing, which involve some physical effort, but they won’t think of it as exercising. It’s all just part of the adventure. You can also try to encourage them to try new hobbies that they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to, like star gazing if you have a half decent telescope. You can’t see the stars well in a city with all the lights, but take your family out into the country and you’ll be amazed just how many stars are up there that you weren’t even aware of.
Take Up A Sport Together
Some of my fondest memories of family adventures involve setting up a makeshift badminton net and playing with my parents. I also used to go and play on weekends with my aunt and uncle. We were just competitive enough to make us work hard for the points and it was a great workout, but I never thought of it as exercising. It was playing.
Maybe badminton is just not your thing, but why not try out basketball or tennis. Something that will teach your children some skills like teamwork and hand-eye coordination while getting their heart rate up and making them sweat a bit. It’ll be good for you too trying to keep up with them. As we get older, we lose that sense of fun with life and we think that exercising means running on a treadmill while having dance music inflicted on us in an overly-bright gym when actually, shooting some hoops in the driveway with the family totally counts.
Getting your kids to become and stay active doesn’t have to be a chore or a fight. The best way to do it is to set an example. Find things that you all enjoy and encourage family time doing them. Something as simple as going for a walk can increase the health and life quality of everyone in your household while making you stronger and closer as a family unit at the same time. There’s literally nothing to lose by trying it out.