#173 Family Fitness

Tell a friend

"It's easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is from the top."

Arnold Bennett

Tag! You're Fit! By Denis Faye
Latest trend in fitness: playing with the kids!

Just finished your latest round of Power 90®? Ready for a little break from spinning, yoga, or Pilates? Looking for the next big trend in exercise?

I'm here to tell you all about it. They're small, they're fun, and they're a never-ending source of energy! Many of us already have them in our homes and, heck, we invest so much time, effort, and money in them, why not use them to get in shape?

That's right! I'm talking about kids! Yes, kids! You're looking for a fun way to get fit. They're looking for a fit way to have fun, so why not exercise together?

Still not sold? Let's have a little peek at some of the benefits:

  • Lifelong diet and exercise patterns develop at an early age. You get Junior out there running around and you're giving him a foundation of fitness that'll influence his life for the better.

  • It's a family thing. Communication is vital to a family. When I say exercise, I'm not suggesting you all hop on treadmills and spend 45 minutes staring straight ahead. I'm talking walks, swims, you know, fun stuff that gives you a chance to chat.

  • Everyone wins. Obesity rates are on the rise the world over. Getting the entire family up and out of the house gets everyone that much more fit.

  • It's fun! Sure, your kids can be punks sometimes, but they're your kids, the same silly, little goofballs they've always been. Laugh it up with them. It's a great cycle. Exercising together will allow you to have fun together and having fun together will allow you to exercise together.

  • It's a chance to nurture. Many things kids do are so beyond their parents. This is a simple chance to be a parent, to offer advice, counsel or, most importantly, a listening ear.

  • It's a chance to learn. Get active with your kid and you'll be able to see their strengths and weaknesses. Armed with this information, you can become a better parent.

Sold yet? I hope so. Now, the next step. You have the kid, you have the motivation. How do you go about it? Here are a few ideas:

  • Find an activity they like. Generally, the parents are going to be a lot more motivated than the kids to hang out together, so let them pick the activity. If you like basketball and they like kickball, too bad for you. Get that kicking leg warmed up!

  • Remember, this is fun. Avoid words like "exercise." Make the schedule as loose as possible. If it gets un-fun after 30 minutes, head home. Better a little bit of fun than a forced march.

  • Think outside the envelope. When's the last time you've been dancing? Or roller-skating? Or bowling? A read through your community newspaper should offer all kinds of neat options.

  • Turn off the television one day a week. That means all day, Mom and Dad, even after the kids hit the sack. When the boob-tube is off, you'd be surprised at how much time you suddenly have.

  • Y'all don't have to be attached at the hip. If you need to jog every day, do it at the local track. Take the kids and let them run around where you can keep an eye on them.

  • Non-exercise exercise. Go to an amusement park. Have a picnic. Play mini golf. No, you won't be working towards Lance Armstrong heroics with these activities, but you'll get exercise and you'll be a hero to the most important people—your kids.

  • Join them during their playtime. Get out there with the neighborhood kids. When's the last time you played kick the can? Or tag? Or had a squirt-gun fight? Way too long, my friend.

For more information on children and fitness, have a look at these past newsletter articles:

"Just Say No to Dodgeball . . . and Other Ways to Cure the Childhood Obesity Epidemic, Part I"

"Just Say No to Dodgeball . . . and Other Ways to Cure the Childhood Obesity Epidemic, Part II"

"Five Tips to Fight Childhood Obesity"

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Home Fitness: A Family Affair
By Steve Edwards

One of the easiest ways to stay on an exercise program is to have peer support. And the best place to find this is at home. Each year, when it's time to choose contest winners for events like our Hawaii trip (which is this week), we find that our short list is filled with couples and families.

One of the best examples is the Young family, of Ware Shoals, South Carolina, who went to Hawaii last year, courtesy of Beachbody. In their first 90 days, Mike Young, his wife Christy and daughter Samantha, 12, lost a total of nearly 70 pounds and re-vamped their lives. Making it a family affair was a primary key to their success.

Hawaii wasn't the goal. "We didn't do it for the contest. We just wanted to get in shape," said Christy.

Christy and Samantha worked out together each morning before they left for work and school. Having a partner makes it nearly impossible to miss a workout, since both parties would have to want to skip it or they'd be bugging the other.

The biggest change, however, was in their eating habits. With the entire family committed to healthier eating, shopping became a snap. "We don't buy munchies anymore," said Mike. "If we want a snack it will be a piece of fruit."

This provided the biggest change for Samantha, who had gained 18 pounds mainly from snacking after school. Swapping Little Debbie's in favor of fruit and cutting out fast food were paramount to her success. As was taking her lunch to school.

Christy said another key was learning how to order in restaurants. Simple changes like getting broiled chicken instead of fried, and steamed veggies instead of fries made a major difference. As did cutting out soda.

These lifestyle changes work just as well for individuals, but it's so much easier if you've got support at home.

"I'm 37 years old and I'm in better shape now than I was in the Army," says Mike.

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