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In today’s world, children often spend more time indoors and are less active physically due to more time being spent on electronic devices. Now with many parents working remotely, excessive screen time has greatly affected physical activity levels in adults as well. There are many physical, as well as emotional, benefits to exercising together as a family. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Sam Laceky discusses the perks of family fitness and how to practically incorporate fitness into your family’s dynamic.
Creating a positive correlation with fitness
“One of the main benefits of being active as a family is it creates a positive introduction of fitness to children,” explains Laceky. “Many kids’ first exposure to physical activity is often through P.E. class or sports teams at school, which can sometimes result in a negative experience for children, due to various factors.”
This negative correlation with exercise can often turn children away from participating in many physical activities. Laceky encourages parents to introduce fitness to children at an early age by creating a positive, loving and safe environment for them to explore different types of activities at home.
Making memories and healthy choices that last
Being active as a family also creates lasting memories. These activities enable you to bond and spend time together while simultaneously working toward better health and improved physical fitness.
“My wife, two daughters and I enjoy going for walks around the duck ponds where we live,” says Laceky. “Sometimes my girls ride their scooters while I skateboard—it helps us both improve our balance and cardiovascular health!”
Laceky explains these activities done as a family enable them to create special memories together and makes fitness fun rather than seem like a chore. When children are introduced to physical activity at a young age, they are more likely to continue these patterns well into their adolescent and adult years as it will be second nature to them.
Choosing an activity
While the idea of finding an activity that accommodates the age range in your family might seem daunting, getting started is easier than you think. Begin by brainstorming a few options of ways to participate in each family member’s favorite physical activities together. Start off with an activity that requires minimal equipment and can be modified easily for different ages as well as fitness and coordination levels, such as taking a walk or going for a bike ride.
Laceky encourages families with younger children to choose activities that can be made into a game to maintain engagement and interest but are still physically demanding enough to help their bodies adapt to a new fitness level.
If you have young children, you can also push them in a stroller or invest in a cart that can be attached to your bike. Other fun options can include enrolling in family swim lessons or even having a dance party at home to a mix of music everyone enjoys.
Laceky advises avoiding strength training until children are at least 14 years of age and to make sure to modify each activity as needed so everyone can participate, as the goal is to perform the activity together as a family unit.
For more ideas, check out this video of a few activities Sam and his family enjoy doing together to stay active.
One way to intentionally weave fitness into your family’s routine is to have each member of the family choose an activity for designated days of the week or month. Putting the ball in their court helps kids feel empowered to have a voice in making a family decision which can be very rewarding.
Intentionally planning family vacations to include physical activities is another way to incorporate and encourage fitness even when you’re away from home.
Sports and games
Playing a sport as a family is a great way to introduce activity to children such as shooting hoops or passing a soccer ball together in your backyard or at the park. This positive introduction to various sports also helps increase children’s confidence and fitness level should they choose to participate in recreational or school team sports in the future. This might also motivate little ones to step out of their comfort zones and try different sports and activities as they watch their older siblings play.
President and CEO of Cooper Aerobics Tyler C. Cooper, MD, MPH, says, “When parents live a healthy lifestyle so most often do their children.” Setting a good example for your children is key to prioritizing healthy choices at home. By bringing fitness to the forefront at home, you and your children will reap physical, mental and emotional benefits changing the trajectory of your health and last a lifetime.
For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit cooperfitnesscenter.com or call 972.233.4832.