By Doug Nelson
Community Center Manager
Whether we like it or not parents, we are role models for our kids when it comes to fitness and wellness. And in most cases, the apple never falls too far from the tree. This might be a startling revelation for many of us, especially when we struggle to meet our own fitness goals. I have great news for you! You can go out and play with your child (or grandchild) and in most cases it will count as a workout. The benefits don’t stop there, as this time spent with a loved one will bring you physical, emotional, and social profits.
“I’m having so much fun, this can’t be a workout!”
Here a few games you can try with your little one(s): Start by seeing how long you and your workout buddy can keep a ball afloat in the air with only your feet. Try a balloon for younger children, and then progress over time to a soccer ball or hacky sack. Repeated attempts will increase your success and overall results. Try going for time or setting a new personal goal with each effort.
Playing a game of catch or passing a soccer ball with your child can bring both aerobic and anaerobic benefits, and also improve hand-eye coordination. If you are playing with a toddler, start with a tennis ball or wiffle-ball and progress to the real thing as their confidence grows.
A bike ride on a moderate trail might seem like child’s play, but it is a great fat burning, aerobic workout that also strengthens and tones the legs and abdominals. Teach your kid(s) how to take the family pooch for a walk. The benefits are endless – especially when they learn how to clean up after Fido!
If you have more than one child to play with or a small army to look after, set up an obstacle course in your yard or cul-de-sac. Your mini-athletes can zig-zag through cones, run through tires, hustle up a hill, crawl under a hurdle or through a tunnel, jump over boxes or buckets… get creative! Several attempts against the clock will get the heart pumping. Playing a game of tag is another great way to get the kids moving, and they will be delighted when mom or dad joins in. You won’t believe how hard they will run when being chased by you, or when tracking you down. Take great joy in knowing that everyone is having a great time and getting some exercise as well.
My last bit of advice is simple – stick with it! You may feel like you are lacking energy at first, but this will only improve with time and effort. May this be the beginning (or a new chapter) of a family fitness plan that lasts a lifetime!