by Kelly Brown
Graham Nash said it first, “Teach your children well.” I’m sure you’ve seen the billboards and ads on the side of the buses stating, “Your children learn from watching you.” What you eat, they will want to eat, too. But, it shouldn’t just be diet we focus on; kids need to learn healthy exercise habits at a young age. Research from the American Council of Exercise shows that kids who exercise with family choose to exercise more regularly without being coerced and make nutritious eating choices on their own. Kids who are active at least an hour a day remain more active throughout the rest of their lives. The benefits are cumulative, so the earlier you begin, the more powerful they become. Involving your children will provide you with even more motivation to get off the couch, turn off the screen and get moving. Learning how to squeeze in time for a workout will follow your children through the rest of their lives. We all know that kids who exercise frequently demonstrate lower rates of obesity. Exercise also leads to improved brain function that will help them do better in school, year after year.
With kids, change workouts from “me time” to “family time.” A workout can be as simple as a walk. Whether you head into town or just cruise around the block, building a walk into your pre or post-dinner routine ensures it won’t be put off. If you don’t have time in the evening, consider parking a few blocks from school and walking your children into class in the morning. Not only will the fresh air and exercise help them focus in the classroom, it’ll also help you jump-start your step count for the day. Walks are for toddlers, too! Alternate between stroller time and walking. Turn your daily walk into a game by pointing out colors and shapes. Or, go on a neighborhood treasure hunt to find the house with the swing set or the house with the cat in the window. If you want to find more motivation, sign up for a charity walk and give back to your city or a nonprofit you care about. Team up with your children’s friends for a lively fundraising race.
If you’ve got little ones who love to boogie, don’t hide it! Take the path of least resistance, crank those jams and get down. Grab a flashlight to use as a strobe and dance while dinner is in the oven. Make a kid dance mix on your Spotify or iTunes to get them moving. Dancing is an excellent way to burn excess energy, calories and develop motor skills.
Use Your Body
Incorporate basic body-weight exercises into your daily routine. Movements appropriate for ages 6 years and older include planks, squats, sit-ups, stretching, jogging in place, wall sits and lunges. Schedule a 5-minute break after 15 minutes of homework to stand up and move. Pick two exercises and alternate between 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. Then, return to homework for another 15 minutes and repeat.
Take a Commercial Break
TV time is another perfect opportunity to squeeze in a workout. On commercial breaks, mute the TV and get in a cardio burst: burpees, high knees, jumping jacks; anything that gets the blood pumping. Motivate your kids (and yourself) by saying, “Only one more commercial before we rest!” The same principle can be applied to their favorite movie; pause every 10-15 minutes for a quick stretch or cardio segment.