Parents, Don't Give Up on Exercise! 5 (Realistic) Ways to Exercise with Kids
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Let's lead by example and show our kids that even when life gets busy or lacks routine, we can still make time to move! Try these 5 ways to exercise as a family.
WHEN IT'S TEMPTING TO FOREGO EXERCISE
If you’re like our family, sometimes life is filled with A LOT of adventure. From summer travel and parties, to our recent move, it has been challenging to keep regular physical activity a part of our lifestyle.
For my husband, who has a few weeks off work, it's been tempting to take a break from exercise while juggling dad duties and putting together our home.
For myself, it's been tempting to put physical activity on the back burner until we have a better routine and I adjust to my new hour-long commute.
Even for our kids, the hot and humid weather has made our usual walks and outdoor play a little miserable.
You may know this story well yourself. Perhaps you’re thinking about foregoing exercise until the kids go back to school. Maybe you find yourself saying you’ll get the family moving more in the fall, when sports are routine and the weather is more conducive to being outside.
We may find ourselves wondering...
Does it really impact our health if we take a short break from regular physical activity?
WHAT RESEARCH TELLS US
It really does matter if our family stops making movement a regular part of our day. The New York Times highlighted two studies that found when we go from keeping a semi-regular movement regimen to an abrupt break in routine (i.e. we take a break from exercise while on a week’s vacation), it can negatively affect our blood sugar levels, reduce insulin sensitivity, elevate cholesterol, increase muscle loss, and promote fat storage around our midsection.
Not only can taking extended time off of exercise have harmful effects, but the amount we move throughout the course of each day also matters. Long periods of sitting throughout the day have both immediate and cumulative impacts on our health. While policy makers are working to include more active living options in our schools and communities, the 2018 State Report Cards on Active Kids and Communities concluded there is still a significant need to increase number of opportunities our children have to move each day.
These findings have a message loud can clear for us parents – we not only have to take care of ourselves, but it is our responsibility to help our families get in some movement each and every day!
WHAT WE CAN WE DO ABOUT IT
This summer, when faced with circumstances that tempted my husband and I to forego regular exercise, we found exercising with our kids to be a realistic and flexible option that gave everyone an opportunity to move.
Here are our 5 favorite ways to exercise with kids:
1. The 7-Minute Workout
These quick workouts can be done anywhere and include any exercises your family enjoys. Use this review from USA Today to find an app, or create your own.
We encourage our kiddos to join in the fun, as my husband and I sweat it out in our living room, backyard, or garage. And yes, we have even been those weird parents at the park doing planks while our kids climb on our backs. (Hey, it works!)
2. Family Yoga or Stretch Session
YouTube has an entire world of free home exercise videos worth giving a try! Our family has explored kid-specific yoga, but in all honestly even if I start playing my favorite videos they are just as likely to try out some moves.
When my husband isn’t feeling my yogi vibes we simply get on the floor with the kids and stretch out. Optional tools like a foam roller, physio ball, the R8, or exercise bands can kick the stretch session up a notch.
3. Family Track Workout
Need a change of scenery? Hit up your local track for some fun! We’ve found traditional running drills only last so long with our littlest Valentine, so we make sure to bring along balls, bubbles, and baby dolls for reinforcement as needed.
As long as we’re moving, it works! Ideas include push-ups, planks, agility drills, and bleacher squats, dips, and step-ups.
4. Family Dance Party
Dance parties are one of our favorite ways to get in some movement, especially on long, rainy days. Check out our article to learn 5 surprising benefits that will make your family want to move and groove too!
5. Create a Family Movement Space
At our old house we used our car port as a place to play during hot or rainy weather. My husband and I used to sit and watch, but one day realized we could maximize our time by moving too.
We found we enjoy having a place to move together so much that we are converting our new garage into a Team Valentine family gym. Because we have such young kids it’s been helpful to include active toys, such as ride-on cars, push toys and our mini slide so it's a fun space for everyone. On those special days when the kids aren’t feeling it, we bring out books, toys, or encourage art time. Sometimes we get lucky and the kiddos quietly make some art.
Other times, we may have to resort to letting them draw all over themselves if it gives us a moment to lift a few weights! While building our garage into a gym certainly was a work over time, it was well worth it once we had a dedicated space for physical activity as a family.
Now, it’s time to brainstorm ways your family can move together. A great place to start is to consider options that are REF (Realistic, Enjoyable, and Flexible). Creating a list of ways to move together with your family is also a way you can increase buy-in for getting everyone started.
Does your family already have a favorite way to be active? Awesome, keep up the great work! While family movement may look a little different in each season of life, any small opportunities we can find to move throughout the day WILL add up to make a BIG impact on our health and happiness.
Team Valentine Project's mission is to empower you to find simple, realistic, and science-based ways to make wellness work. Make sure to see all of our wellness content by following @TeamValentineProject on Facebook and Instagram & subscribing to the blog below!
Together, we can take small steps that create a resilient foundation of health and happiness.
Improving Health by Breaking Up Continuous Bouts of Sedentary Behavior. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/acsm-healthfitness/fulltext/2015/03000/BREAK_IT_UP__Improving_Health_by_Breaking_Up.7.aspx