Family Fitness Tips
“Your life is going
to change forever!”
You heard it a
million times before starting a family. In addition to a host of other
adjustments that come with a growing family, your activity and exercise routine
will no doubt undergo some changes. With all the new responsibilities that come
with the arrival of kids, exercise has a tendency to fall by the wayside. However,
keeping up a fitness routine is important not only for your own health but also
as an example for your children. Here are some tips to give your family a dose
of preventive medicine as well as togetherness. With a bit of luck, your kids
won’t even recognize it as exercise.
Exercise with a Baby
Naturally, your newborn is not ready
for formal exercise just yet, but mom has recovered from delivery and is ready to
return to a moderate exercise regimen. A good stroller is a great investment
for not only getting the daily chores done, but also for introducing some brisk
walking and eventually jogging. From the time your baby is 8 weeks old, it is
safe to walk with him or her in a stroller, as long as you use a car seat
adaptor. While you hit the pavement for your daily dose of endorphins, your
baby will enjoy the rocking motions as well as the sights and sounds.
If you’re confined to the indoors,
invest in a workout DVD to get your exercise fix. You’d be surprised how
engrossed your baby can be while watching mom or dad working out in front of
the screen. Purchase a jumper — a device that allows your baby to jump up and
down securely in one spot — and put it somewhere where you can keep an eye on them
while you get that all-important 20 minute workout.
Exercise with Young Children
Even in the digital
age, some excitement can still be generated from a child’s first bike. Once
your child is up and cycling without training wheels, the two of you can
combine workouts by jogging and cycling together. Sure, the pace might be
inconsistent and you may have to negotiate both road crossings and the random
muses of a child, but use them to your advantage to vary the pace. You can even
recruit your child as a coach, getting them to yell “Go” at random intervals.
This type of training in athletic circles is called “fartlek,” a Swedish word
meaning “speedplay.” It’s great cardiovascular training.
Not only is swimming
a great exercise, but it’s also an important safety skill for kids to learn so
that they can be comfortable and confident in and around water. A trip down to
the public swimming pool is a great way to spend an afternoon getting some fun,
informal exercise. Children can learn to swim at an early age, but if you don’t
feel confident doing the teaching, enroll them in private or group swimming
lessons. That way you can swim some laps while the kids are occupied.
Exercise with Grade-Schoolers
Combine fun and
exercise with trampolining. The kids will be so busy enjoying themselves they
won’t even know they’re exercising. In many places around the United States,
there are businesses that run warehouses of trampoline floors and walls where
you can bounce around for hours. Whether jumping, running, or flipping, you and
your child will burn calories, build muscle, and increase your balance and
spatial coordination. It’s also a great idea for alternative birthday
Suggesting a hiking
trip may not elicit cries of joy from your tween initially, but there are some
ways to spice up this exercise to make it more desirable. Attaching an activity
— such as bird watching, plant identification, or map reading — may convert
this outdoor pursuit into an active hobby, one that keeps them coming back.
Educate yourself by reading some nature books specific to your location, or
take a short, guided hike so that next time you’re out you can distract
yourselves from the effort by reveling in the wonders of nature.
Exercise with Teens
If you are successful
in prying the video game controller or television remote out of your teen’s
hands, pack him or her in the car and head to your local disc golf venue. Disc
golf courses are outdoors, usually in naturally beautiful preserves, and all
you need is a Frisbee. The goal is to throw the Frisbee into a basket located
some distance from the tee. It is scored in the same way golf is; the person
who completes the course with the least number of throws wins. By the time it’s
over, you will have clocked three to four miles of walking and will have worked
your shoulders and torso muscles with the throwing motion.
Think it’s impossible
to get your teens up and away from the computer screen? There are computer
games that can actually help you get some physical exercise. The Wii is a home
video console built by Nintendo with a wide a selection of dance games designed
specifically for the Wii. You hold the controls in your hands and avatars on
the screen mimic your actions. The gamer copies the dance moves they see on the
screen and scores points for accuracy. It’s a lot of fun and a great calorie
burner. Using the multiplayer function, even uncoordinated parents can get
sucked into the fun. Luckily, there are no points for style.