Exercise: A Family Affair

Keep exercise fun and motivational by including your family.

After my son was born in October 2000, I knew I needed to get myself back in shape – New Year’s Resolution: lose 20lbs. Not an easy task when taking care of a newborn, but I incorporated my exercise in our daily activities to achieve that very goal.

The plan:
Because my old regimen included frequenting the gym and an occasional exercise video at home, I needed to change things up a bit to accommodate the addition of my newborn whether he was a part of the routine itself, or nearby for a game of peek-a-boo.

The new plan comprised of a daily walk around the neighborhood, usually in the morning after he awoke to revitalize our minds and get us energized for the upcoming day. If weather didn’t permit I would get down on the floor with an exercise video utilizing my son as weights for scrunches, or arm and leg work. This also kept us close and allowed for a fun experience adding counting, raspberries on the belly, and a few laughs. While I created a routine based on activities that I previously enjoyed participating in, there are several programs already established (gym and video) that incorporate children, including Yoga with Baby, Children’s Yoga, and others. A good resource to check out programs in your area would be your doctor’s office, local gym, or YMCA.

As the weather started to change and my son became more active, we continued walking, following a relaxing swim. Seeing his face with a huge smile upon walking to the pool was a great motivator for me. Adding a new activity also kept us motivated, changing up the routine a little, and working slightly different muscles.

Resolution Complete:

As I hopped onto the scale to find that I had achieved my goal, a moment of sadness hit me. I didn’t want our activity filled routine that brought us so much enjoyment to end, so we continued.

Now with a more active child in tow, our activities need a makeover once again. To keep active we walk to the playground a couple times a week. Actually we usually end up running over once the word playground is mentioned, which gives us an even better workout. Of course once we get there we play, retiring home with a struggling toddler in arms – an arm work to its fullest extent. We have joined playgroups that meet outdoors; either at the park or pool, depending on weather; joined a music class which keeps us hopping to music indoors; and fit other fun exercise into our day walking malls, playing catch, and tickling each other on the floor until we must stop for lack of breath.

“We dance a lot in our house. We just like to prance around the kitchen and the halls. We may look silly, but we have fun and it gets our blood pumping and it feels good. ” Alicia Slansky, mother of one.

Including exercise in my life allows for me to be a healthier mom, ensuring health benefits that I don’t want to miss out on: an overall sense of well-being, more energy throughout the day, controlling stress, and reducing the risk of illnesses. Not only am I offering these benefits to myself, but to the people in my life that I care the most about, my family.

Once children enter into a day-care, or preschool environment, much of their day is spent sedentary, which can increase the risk of an inactive lifestyle. Much office time for adults is also spent sedentary in front of a computer, in meetings, and taking phone calls. It is much too easy to fall into a schedule of sedentary activities after a busy day, watching television or playing video games, when a whole world awaits us outside. Often we can be the motivator for our children, suggesting activities to get up and moving, or vice versa. As a family we can make fitness fun and keep ourselves in shape.

Safety:
No matter what activity you choose, please be safe. Always have plenty of fluids available for yourself and loved ones. If you will be outdoors it is best to apply a sunscreen before walking out the door. If you do tempt the gym with little ones make sure they have something available for them to occupy themselves, otherwise they could get their fingers pinched in machinery or take a tumble. Most of all, have fun.

“We enjoy many family activities which are fun and make us feel good. We all like swimming and taking a leisurely walk, enjoying our surroundings and our time together as a family,” June Davids mother of four.

Fun Activities to Try:
Play mini-golf. Take a walk on the beach or outside, collecting items as you go and make a collage when you get home. These will make fun keepsakes. Turn on a sprinkler and run. Blow bubbles and see how many you can run around and pop. Draw pictures with sidewalk chalk, or make angels in the leaves. Ride bikes, with helmets of course. Go dancing, this is a suitable activity no matter where you go. Play games in the swimming pool. Play a sport together. Enter a benefit walk. Visit a meandering garden.

“While we all participate in goal-oriented activities outside of the house, as a family, we all like to play tennis and have lots of fun challenging each other on the court,” Cindy Connors, mother of four.

Enjoying activities together will forma bond with your family that can never be replaced. These times will be a fun influence in the lives of your children and they will hopefully pass on fun times with their families.

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