Start the New Year with a Resolution to Exercise Together as a Family

A common new year’s resolution for adults is beginning a regular exercise routine or increasing the amount of weekly exercise.  At the beginning of this new year of 2019, please consider exercising together as a family.  Not only will this promote a healthier family lifestyle, but it will also build many fond memories.

I know that you may think that finding time for just you to exercise is difficult, but including your children in exercise routines can be much easier than you may initially think.   There are many articles online about adults and children exercising together.   Some of these articles are listed at the end of this blog post to help you.  What is important is planning.

What would you like to do for physical activity and exercise?  Prepare a routine for different days of the week and seek your children’s input.   Some exercises can be done inside at your home or gym, while others, outside, depending on the weather.  Also, some family exercise activities will require spending money, such as buying bikes or special sports equipment, while others will simply require you and your children to put on sneakers, pack some water, and walk out your front door.  It’s up to you to decide what you would like to do. 

One online article has excellent tips on family walks and how to prevent children from complaining and whining.   The key is to plan out your walk and make sure that you take time to enjoy what is happening around you, especially in nature, and talking with your children.

If biking together is what you would like to do, plan out the route to take from your home and back.  Many communities have bike paths to encourage biking fun.   Be creative.  On a weekend or holiday, add a picnic in the park too. 

The list of family exercise activities is long.  Your children will love spending time with you and you will enjoy spending time with them.  And, everyone is developing an important habit of exercising.  To me, that is a win-win scenario for everyone!

Here are some websites that provide a wealth of information to help you with this new year’s resolution:

Fighting Childhood Obesity One Bite at a Time

Healthy eating and exercise should be an important part of your children’s everyday lifestyle. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children and adolescents affected with obesity has tripled since the 1970s and it is now estimated that 1 in 5 school age children and young people between the ages of 6 to 19 are obese in the United States.  These are shocking statistics! 

Experts agree that obesity begins when there is excessive daily caloric intake in relation to daily caloric expenditure.  Poor food choices are at the root of this excessive intake, as usually choices involve fast food rather than healthy food.  For example, children love to eat pizza, but what type of pizza do they consume?  Typically, it is the pizza with double or triple extra cheese.  And, what about the types of drinks that are consumed with a meal?  Again, these are typically carbonated sodas with considerable sugar and calories. 

The key then is for a parent to introduce healthy food and drinks into their children’s diet.  Have food and snacks available that are nutritious and low in processed sugar.   Encourage them to drink more water as it is recommended that children drink 5 to 10 glasses of water a day, depending on their age.  As options for fast food or food and drink high in sugar and calories are diminished, your children will slowly be weaned from them and toward more healthy eating habits.  Please understand that this process will not be easy.  Sugar is an addiction and your children will be craving it.  However, offering them fruits with natural sugar as an alternative is very helpful.

In addition to changing what your children eat and drink, parents must encourage them to exercise.  Experts lament over the fact that children have become very inactive, opting to sit and play video games or watch tv for hours rather than go outside and play.   It is estimated that children now spend four hours a day watching tv. 

Instead of telling your children to exercise more, try joining them and encouraging them to exercise.  Take some time out of your day to exercise with them, if even for 15 minutes. Jog around the block, play a sport, or even join a dance class! The opportunities are endless and choosing an activity that your children will enjoy is the best way to ensure that they will keep up with it.

What our children eat every day fuels their bodies and ultimately their lives.  Choose to provide good, nutritious food and drinks for them to help them build lifelong good habits.

Keep Your Children Active as Activity Works Out the Body and the Brain

The benefits of physical activity on the body are plentiful and well known. The more you move your body, the healthier you will be and the risk of weight related health issues – such as diabetes and heart disease - diminishes. For children, physical activity promotes healthy growth, improves fitness levels, and boosts self-esteem. Did you also know all the benefits exercise can have on a child’s mind?

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), students who are physically active actually had better grades, school performance, memories, and classroom behavior.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services  recommends 60 minutes of physical exercise each day. Many parents mistakenly believe that if their children participate in physical activities, they will have less time for homework and other school assignments and be too tired to perform their best in school.  Importantly, however, the scientific research data does not support this way of thinking.

Physical activity has been a very helpful as well in improving the behavior of children with behavioral disorders.  In a study to determine whether an aerobic cybercycling  physical education curriculum could benefit children who had behavioral health disorders, the findings showed that this type of aerobic physical activity benefitted children significantly.   A cybercycle is a stationary bike - similar to the ones we see at the gym - with a screen to give the illusion of an outdoor environment.   Often children with these disorders are not encouraged to participate in exercising and thus, suffer greatly as a result.

There are so many benefits that come from living an active lifestyle.  Promoting healthy behaviors today guarantees a better life for your children in their future.

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