What if there was a way to prevent childhood obesity, get ourselves healthier in the process, and enjoy quality time with the family? It’s not as impossible as it sounds. Family exercise is a great way to build lifelong healthy habits – AND lifelong memories!
The Childhood Obesity Epidemic
It’s no secret that childhood obesity is a huge problem in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 20% of all children ages 2-19 are obese. Overweight and obese children are more likely to remain obese into adulthood, leading to a host of serious medical problems like diabetes and heart disease. Obesity also impacts a child’s emotional and psychological health, too.
There are many culprits behind this epidemic, including diet and exercise. The CDC recommends that children under 18 get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day. While that might sound like a lot, it’s easy to get your kids out and moving when the entire family gets involved.
Why Family Exercise is Important for Kids
Studies have proven that a child’s nutritional and physical activity habits mimic those of their parents. If a child comes from a sedentary home, that child is more likely to be sedentary. But if a child’s parents and/or other siblings are physically active, they are more likely to be physically fit.
It’s also much easier to shape healthy habits in younger children than in adolescents or adults. If we, as parents, begin instilling lifelong healthy habits when our children are little, they are more likely to continue those healthy habits into adulthood.
The best way to establish healthy habits? Establish them together with family exercise.
Setting an Example for Healthy Living
As parents, we set the example for our kids, whether positive or negative. That whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing? Yeah, it doesn’t work. Our kids will reflect what we show them.
Where nutrition and exercise are concerned, our example can mean the difference between a lifetime of health problems and a healthy future.
Raising confident, healthy kids begins with us. If we take the time to encourage exercise – and find ways to make it fun for the whole family – our children are more likely to maintain those healthy habits throughout their lives.
Plus, getting the whole family involved means we as parents get more physical activity, too. Not only do we get to spend fun, quality time with our kids, but we’re building healthier hearts, lungs, and waistlines in the process. It’s a win-win!
Make Working Out Fun for the Entire Family
Okay, so we know that getting our kids moving is essential for their health (and ours!). But anyone with a moody pre-teen can tell you that getting our kids to hang out with the family is easier said than done.
The goal is to make exercise feel less like a chore and more like a reward. Think about activities your kids like to do without you. Do they enjoy playing soccer? Basketball? Climbing trees? Going for bike rides?
Then, keeping these activities in mind, suggest a family outing. Perhaps that means going to their favorite restaurant for lunch and then hitting the bike trail afterward. Or maybe suggest a basketball game, and the winner gets to pick a movie to watch that evening. Pairing exercise with other activities your kids enjoy can be a great way to build those habits without your kids dragging their feet.
Tips for Family Exercise
If you haven’t involved your family in your workouts, it’s never too late to get started. Here are a few tips to make family exercise a new normal:
- Make CrossFit a family affair. If you’re wondering if CrossFit is safe for kids and teens, you can read more about it here. Bring the kids to your local box and let them in on the fun!
- Make workouts feel less like work. As adults, we tend to make exercise a chore. We forget about the freedom and fun of being an active kid. Let that inner child loose and get moving. It doesn’t need to be a structured activity to be healthy!
- Involve your kids. They’re more likely to buy into family exercise if it’s something they get excited about. Ask for suggestions. Maybe it’s creating your own family game or calling neighborhood friends to join in the fun. When your kids enjoy the activity, they’re more likely to continue it in the future.
Now, get out there and play!