April 9, 2013
Fit parents raise fit kids. In fact, children who grow up in families where both parents are physically active are nearly three times more likely to be active than kids whose parents are not active. The reality is that it can be a struggle for busy parents to fit enough activity into a daily routine.
Here are a few ideas for you to seamlessly integrate physical activity into your daily routine. You’ll soon find that the benefits expand beyond inspiring kids with fitness—it also includes increased mental, physical and social health.
- Wear a pedometer and set “steps” goals. With a goal in sight, the mere act of putting on a pedometer and tracking your steps will help motivate you to add steps into your day. The extra steps gained from taking the stairs instead of the elevator and spending 10 minutes during lunchtime to take a walk around the block add up. And if you’re on toddler-duty, you’ll quickly see that taking care of the kids all day keeps you active, too.
- Make sure your girls’ or guys’ “nights out” include fitness. Whether that’s checking out a new group fitness class, arranging a pick-up game of basketball or walking together to a restaurant, when it’s your turn to decide what to do, pick something active.
- Be active with the kids. When is the last time you joined your kids for a game of tag or Simon says? Or, for the older kids, how about a family bike ride, a game of H-O-R-S-E or going for a run together? Pick something that the kids (and you) love to do, and go for it!
- Take time for you. Sometimes leaving the kids with a babysitter to get in an hour workout can be life-changing. Or, consider joining a gym that offers adults and kids programming so you can be sure your kids will have fun being active at the same time you do. Take the time to take care of yourself and you’ll do an even better job taking care of the kids.
- Consider DVDs and home exercise equipment. You never know when you’ll have a few minutes to squeeze in a quick workout. Make sure the routine and equipment you need are readily available so when the opportunity arises, you can get in a few minutes.
- Partake in a new adventure with your spouse. Optimize your success in your reinvigorated activity program by getting your spouse or partner to join in. It could be anything from learning a new sport or how to surf, to finishing a half marathon or triathlon, to hiking the Grand Canyon. Set a goal and hold each other accountable for achieving it.
- Schedule activity into your day. You will be more likely to stick with your physical-activity program if you put it on your calendar, just as you would if a child had soccer practice or a doctor’s appointment. Make your time for exercise a standing appointment that is only canceled on rare occasions.
- Make it a family affair. Some households have weekly “family days” to help strengthen the family bond. Each week, set aside time for “family days” (even if it’s more like “family two-hours”) and do something fun and active together like going to the zoo.
Natalie Digate MuthContributor
Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD, FAAP is the Senior Advisor for Healthcare Solutions for the American Council on Exercise, a board-certified pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a Diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine, registered dietitian and board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, and ACE Certified Health Coach. She is the author of "Eat Your Vegetables and Other Mistakes Parents Make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters" and the textbook "Sports Nutrition for Health Professionals." She has been ACE certified since 1998.