Spending quality time with your family is important, but we don’t often think to spend that time exercising. Usually, it’s game night, movie night, or a nice big dinner. The benefits of exercise are well established, but I want to talk about the psychology of introducing fun exercise into your child’s life and creating a special bond to improve your health.
Exercise Encourages Good Behaviors
Childhood obesity rates are alarming. Exercising regularly, especially outside of school and regular sports activities, helps your child remain active. Coupling this with keeping healthy pre- and post-exercise snacks around the house will help ingrain the behavior of making good choices when it comes to food. We tend to take family traditions with us as we get older and move out of the house. It helps to have a routine that fights the diseases that come with a sedentary lifestyle.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Working together with your child towards a common goal helps establish the ability to work as a small team. It’s even better if the whole family gets involved and keeps each other accountable. These skills may be developed some outside of the home, but teamwork is truly developed at home. Think about how much time your family spends at home versus at school or in team sports.
Bonding Time for the Family
Exercising togethers encourages teamwork and communication. Allow all family members to discuss their fitness goals and participate in programming the workouts. Some other family activities, such as a movie night, are typically silent and sometimes result in each person on their phone on the couch. During exercise time you should put the phones away, crank up the music, pick things up, and put them down.
Youth sports are great at encouraging the athletes to get better and work towards a common goal...winning. Even in less competitive leagues, there is still going to be a lot of competition between the kids. This is even worse at school as kids are constantly competing against each other. Family exercise offers encouragement to be a better person without actually having to compete. Sure, you can introduce some challenges into the mix, but it is great to have an environment where each person is 100% supportive.
Family exercise time does not always have to be done at home or in a park. It is becoming increasingly common for families to exercise together at gyms. Many CrossFit gyms have families working out together or even offer CrossFit Kids classes. You may be met with some resistance at first if your child is not used to exercising, but with positive reinforcement and making it an enjoyable experience you are sure to change their life for the better!
Corey Hall, PT, DPT