Here are some common question I get in clinic all the time about kids and fitness:
- How can kids be motivated to move?
- How can we prevent them from being couch potatoes?
- What activities do you have to do to make them move?
- Why do they not listen to us when we tell them that fitness is important?
By now everyone knows that children of all ages should get 60min of activity every day, and no, PE at school does not count.
A review of why kids need to be active, and this applies to adults as well.
- increase in concentration and improvement of memory (recent studies show that only 10 min of exercise before studying reduces homework times, increases memory retention, improves efficiency) (also 10 min of exercise before a test, increases memory recall and thus improves grades)
- increased sense of well being; decrease in depression and anxiety ( a study conducted at Duke showed that 60min of vigorous exercise 5 days a week was as effective as Prozac in depressed adults)
- better sleep
- healthier weight
- less hyperactivity
- improves the immune system (numerous studies show that regular moderate exercise increases circulating antibodies which are the cells that protect us from invading bacteria and viruses. To keep it basic, fitness increases the production of fighting cells and these fighting cells move more efficiently through all our body parts because the heart is pumping blood more effectively)
- increases skin health (when the heart is bringing more blood to the surface of the body, at the skin level, antibodies help clean up our largest organ, the skin. This helps to clear skin of acne and improve skin firmness, aka. less wrinkles)
So how do we get these little creatures that we created, get moving?
Here is a story and a great example of the adage
“If you build it, they will come”.
This Mom and Dad have 4 kids under the age of 5. They have moved numerous times, and for a brief time they were my neighbors and friends. In light of very busy work and kid schedules, and not to mention numerous moves, the dad decided to prioritize fitness for himself so he can maintain sanity and well being.
Over the past 2.5years he has made fitness fit his schedule and lifestyle. Instead of paying $150/month for gym memberships that do not transfer with his moves, he invested that money into workout equipment for home use. Within a few months he had all that is needed for full body workouts. In case you need ideas on what to buy for your home gym, here is a link to Gifts for Healthy Living
Just like all of us, he struggles with time. To fit exercise into his busy day, he goes to bed early (so less Netflix, less FB, less work emails at night) and then gets up in the mornings before the little people are awake and gets the job done (did I mention 4 kids under 5y/o) . Weekend workouts are a must with his wife. Furthermore, the week’s workouts are downloaded from the internet on Sunday, so he can be ready for the week and does not have to scramble for ideas at 5am.
Workout Routines –
He does Crossfitt workouts, yoga, lifting weight, cardio, interval training. He changes it up as he sees fit for his body and energy level. All these kind of workouts can be easily found online. In fact, I have a whole Pinterest Page set up with Ideas for Workouts for all fitness levels and interests Workouts for Everyone.
What does all this have to do with the kids –
So this is what has happened in his house as he has focused on his own health over the past few years ….
The kids watched. The kids became interested. The kids started copying.
What they saw regularly became an inspiration and a goal to achieve for themselves. Their parents did not make them work out, they did not force them to exercise.
The parents focused on themselves and modeled discipline, planning, organization, and fitness. The kids decided that these are important things that they should be doing. They wanted to be part of these fun activities that dad and mom do regularly. These days, the little people are found in the home gym doing pull-ups, pushups, sit ups, box jumps, and other great body weight training things. Inspiration from Example.
I will end with one of my favorite quotes –
“Our children do not always listen to what we have to say, but they always watch what we do”
In Good Health, Ana-Maria
A special thank you to the Phillips Family for Inspiring us all!!