Everyone wants their children to live happy lives. Encouraging their best efforts in academics, and behavior are evidence of this value in most contemporary societies around the world. How about the health of our children? Diet was explored in a previous article (“Family health and nutrition”), and several suggestions were offered in another article about how to sneak in 15 minute bites of exercise throughout a busy day (“Fitness for families?”).This article will focus upon how to develop and share the gift of fitness with your family by way of daily fitness activities in the home.
Regular physical activity is certainly a useful part of maintaining one’s health. Starting young children on a program of moderate, age-appropriate activities which will translate into a lifetime of physical fitness and well-being is time well-invested in their and your future. We can’t all be athletes, nor do we all harbor competitive, warrior-esque instincts. We can all, however, get into, and stay in amazing physical shape. Consistency seems to be the key in the continued success of any fitness regimine.Take the kids on that walk before/after dinner every day. Its intensity can -and should- be varied, but the time and effort allocated to getting outside and doing it are what are the most important. Vary the route, incorporate races to landmarks along the way (tree-to-tree, two story house to two story house, etc.). Always encourage the kids along the way. Positive reinforcement works wonders, if it’s genuine (i.e., commentary on improved performance, form, endurance, etc.).
Exercise equipment might be out of reach for many families’ budgets. Dumbbells and kettle bells are pricey, even on sale. Improvised weightlifting equipment can be made from regular household items. Most backpacks come in different sizes, and have, “drag straps” sewn onto the top. Fill the bags with a book or two (or three, …), and several dumbbell exercise movements are instantly ready for the family to do (i.e., standing dumbbell curls, triceps extensions, chest presses, overhead presses, hack squats, etc).. Even kettle bell movements are possible with backpacks stuffed with books, small bags of rice, bags of flour, etc. Empty plastic gallon jugs of milk, juice, etc. can be filled/emptied with water to vary its weight and to allow for the scaling of a variety of kettle bell movements for each of the members of the family. Exercise resistance bands can also be fashioned out of bicycle inner tubes. The thicker, mountain bike / BMX inner tubes offer more resistance than do the thinner, longer road bike inner tubes. Basic stretching and calisthenics (i.e, push ups, bent-knee sit ups, etc.), can be incorporated to round out any comprehensive family fitness program.
Bottom line? Get creative with how you plan to get fit. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, and any investment of time and energy will be well worth it. Being a parent is tough work. Parenting is our opportunity to leave this Earth a better place than how it was when we got here. Change the world. Share the gift of fitness with yourself and your children.