Can you work out with your kids? (Is that even possible?)
December 29, 2014
If you’ve read the stats we’ve compiled on page 4, you have realized we have a growing epidemic of busy parents, with kids who need to spend more time with them. One positive way to fix many of these issues: Exercise together!
Children need as much exercise as parents. With the amount of electronics kids use today, television time, and schools no longer providing as much daily exercise as is really required, plus the fact that during winter months everyone spends more time indoors living sedentary lives, it’s necessary to find a form of exercise that will benefit everyone in the family.
Although some families encourage their kids to participate in indoor soccer and hockey, or outdoor skiing, skating and cross-country, these activities aren’t suited for coupling exercise with quality time:
“75% of parents NEVER spend any leisure time outdoors”
“The proportion of kids who play outside after school has dropped 14% in the last decade”
The amount of local clubs and gyms that will accept memberships from children under the age of 15 are few. But there are the exceptions, and they are certainly worth investigating. And as we strive to change these growing issues, let’s look at what a family membership at a club may look like.
There are many benefits from joining a gym as a family, such as reasonable family rates and special family discounts, child minding for smaller children, as well as fun programs where parents can participate with their child – from karate and dance lessons, to swimming lessons and family yoga.
Family memberships provide an opportunity to spend that much needed quality time together: After having dinner, get ready together, get dressed and packed, drive together to the gym, and unite after class or a lesson for a swim, a refreshing beverage at the gym, or a weekend brunch. It not only allows parents some time alone as the kids are safe, entertained and active, but it also gives the adult an opportunity to try some new classes together with their kids, having fun and keeping fit! What can be more gratifying!
How it worked for them
Daniel and Cornel joined Cedar Springs Health and Racquet Club after their boys, aged 9 and 7, attended a summer camp, and after they were provided an opportunity to see all the amenities and activities available to them as a family. After joining the club and along with Jacob and Emil, they are now involved in playing squash, racquetball and badminton, as well as other various exercise and fitness classes.
“We go to the gym three times a week for 4 to 5 hours in total,” says Daniel.
“The fact that we can all go together is the reason why we are still going strong after 3 years.”
Daniel says they are having more fun this way, as they can stay healthier, and by going together they actually save time and can better align their schedules. “There is not a factor of guilt that you feel like you’re giving up family time in order to get exercise.”
The social aspect is another great benefit for them, as for may other families. Parents see their children develop friendships with other kids who have something in common, and they also have a chance to socialize and develop some friendships – whether during a class or after one is finished. “We have met many people at the gym and it’s nice seeing other family units come to the gym as well,” says Daniel, adding that for them this adds up to greater physical and social well-being.
Do as I’m doing
A new study out of University of Essex (UK) highlights how important it is for kids to see their parents being active. The research shows that 2 of 3 kids say their parents aren’t active at all, and although this may be true, their views may come from the fact that these kids actually don’t “see” their parents being active, even if they are.
According to the study, the children who perceived their parents to be least active, were the least healthy themselves, with one in four of these children being termed “unfit”. And the likelihood of this was closely linked to the child’s observation of “no physical activity” from their parents.
We know children like to mimic what they see their parents doing, and although most parents who are active choose to exercise during early morning hours or later at night when the kids have been ‘settled down’, the study group strongly advises parents to make time to exercise with children – to find an activity everyone enjoys doing together ona consistant basis.
This doesn’t mean parents need to be athletes to be good role models for their children – it just means they need to encourage kids to find something they’re interested in, and actively participate in their activity. And if that activity includes the whole family, then the rewards of good health and family unity will benefit everyone! •