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Exercise: A Family Affair

Posted on October 22, 2011 | No Comments on Exercise: A Family Affair

With your permission, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Remember those days when as a kid, one of your most awaited instances was when your parents would ask you to go to the park? When you would have that adrenalin rush of excitement and almost automatically, would surrender to your parents’ proposal?

The rest of the family would of course instantaneously tag along; the more the merrier. Not only for what activity lies in store for the gang, but perhaps, for the adults to just take a stroll while inhaling fresh air or, simply take a breather from a busy week.

Once at the park (which in my time was Rizal Park, CCP complex or Quezon City Circle), it was bliss! You and the rest of the family would break free of care and would run, chase and plunge within the green field of trees and grass as if held in captivity for a long time.

Adding thrill and color to this taste of freedom, for children like myself particularly, were the dinosaur and animal-shaped slides, a variety of swings, see-saws, name it—and if you have the extra buck, you could also rent bikes on an hourly rate. Everybody just couldn’t get enough of this place most of us call a playground.

And with this plain gesture of unintentional but accorded group activity, the family gets to achieve one fundamental thing in life exercise.

Yes! Exercise
It is in fact amazing and unbelievable how exercise could come in the littlest things like spending time strolling in the park with the family giving credit to the axiom: hitting two birds with one stone.

Everybody is enjoying playing and talking with one another while further strengthening the relationship of each family member—a perfect family portrait.

It is sad to say that the aforementioned scenario could nowadays only be seen in photos hanging on your walls and has become a thing of the past. How come?

Good question
Today’s technology has brought about the most astonishing, the most innovative, and most progressive inventions in the last hundred years; but more importantly, the most dramatic changes in people’s lifestyles.

The younger generation is hooked to game consoles, cable TV, internet, mp3 players, touch screen mobile phones, and food deliveries turning them into “cyberzombies”— living a very sedentary life with high health risks (obesity, diabetes, etc.)

On the other hand, society has transformed the modern-day professional into the ultimate working machine, literally. Stress in this fast-paced society is absolutely off the charts, with demands putting a whole lot of pressure on working parents.

The predicament is this: with children hooked on their PSPs, and parents driven by their jobs, is there room left for quality family time? What more for their health and exercise?

You would probably have an immediate response that it is next to impossible. It is not feasible, not realistic, and probably would take a miracle.

But, there is hope! It is just a matter of having a positive mindset and a little motivation. Let me lead you to the right direction with these easy pointers. Here are ten ways on how to reclaim fitness in the family and how to make Exercise a Family Affair.

Do as you preach
As grown-ups, you should accept the responsibility placed on your shoulders in promoting not only exercise, but also a healthy lifestyle to your children. Yelling and howling at them would make no greater impact unless you, yourself are a role model.

Show your children that staying physically active is tangible to get them moving. Fitness experts concur that it is one thing to tell kids the benefits of exercise, and another if they actually see you prioritizing fitness in life.Be ready to walk the talk.

Make a game plan
Sit down with the family and explore the activities every one is interested in or is good at. In this manner, you will be able to come up and create a list of different family fitness activities. As with anything else in life, variety would add excitement and anticipation. Make sure that each family member gets to choose an activity and allot a particular day for it. According to experts, 30 to 60 minutes a day most days of the week would suffice for the family’s exercise needs.

Once you have marked the days in the calendar, it is necessary to stick to the plan. This is a MUST. This will keep everyone on their toes and let them look forward to these dates. Besides enjoying family togetherness, everybody would get the opportunity to show off in activities they excel in. Both genders will be taken into consideration as well. Once the family gets the hang of things, it would be much easier to make time for weekday nights and weekend mornings.

F-U-N
I believe this is the single most important ingredient to encourage exercise in the family. Children would not be likely to do something if fun is not part of the equation—same goes for their parents. And exercise is not something that has to be super-duper serious! It should not be limited to fitness centers and clubs. Remember, the name of the game is choosing an activity that has fun as its focal point.

Discover hundreds of possibilities on what the family can do to stay in shape. They are out there!

Take it outdoors
This suggestion comes highly recommended since it catalyzes one basic goal: getting off the couch and out of the house.
Once outside, this will bolster the chances of everybody moving their bodies. Head for the park and play a game of tag. Frisbee is also not such a bad idea. If you have bikes, there could be biking paths available in your neighborhood. Skateboards and skates, could also be ideal in augmenting your objective.

As long as everybody is out of the house, strolling, biking, or walking the dog—it would be conducive set-up to raising heart rates and paving the way for exercise. A simple walk outside is one of the ideal ways of chatting and catching up with the family’s social life too!

If your community has public recreation areas (tracks, tennis courts, fields for kite-flying) make sure to utilize them as well.

Depending on the season, your family might want to consider joining camps and survival tours to further strengthen your bond.

Take it indoors
This may sound a little odd, but when the weather is cloudy, you don’t have to skip your walks. Take your children down to the local mall or maybe, somewhere a little more significant, the museum. It doesn’t matter where you get your exercise for as long as those legs are stretched and the TV unplugged.

For girls, some window shopping would be nice, and for boys, indoor theme parks or amusement centers could be very appealing. For parents, scheduled visits to the supermarket would seal the deal.

Taking it indoors doesn’t mean you have to drive downtown to malls. Another wonderful idea is for the family to clean the house together. Parents should take the role of marshals here. Turn up the music and dance while everyone does their tasks—either sweep the floor, move the furniture, clean the carpet, wash the dishes, do the lawn, take out the trash, dust the vases, etc. Let your children get their hands dirty once in a while. For additional perks, turn the activity into a minicontest; those who do the best job get a prize!

Use Technology
What are those virtual reality video games for if you don’t use them to your advantage? Video game manufacturers are getting more creative with their products as they put sports and exercise in one compact console. Boxing, baseball, football, tennis, and even aerobics are readily available within the comforts of your couch.

Make use of this new wave of technology which is another way to exercise while having fun! Those exercise videos could also come in handy to encourage the family to move. Fitness experts have had this promotional idea of taping synchronized taebo, serene yoga and Pilates, or high octane abdominal dance workouts. It’s really no surprise that videotaped exercises may not be for entertainment alone but for promoting exercise as well.

Hit the waters
Now here’s a little input of serious exercise info. I strongly suggest that your family go for a swim—either at the beach or in a pool. In fitness parlance, swimming is one of the activities that we could call “the perfect workout”. Plus, with the help of water density, you can be secure from incurring injuries.

I am not saying that you do laps, or enter a competitive mindset—you don’t have to. Swimming in itself would require your body (almost every part of it) to constantly move, ensuring excess calorie burn. Try playing games like water or beach volleyball, underwater tag, frisbee, or friendly races. Besides, who doesn’t like being in water?!

Play sports
Instilling a healthy amount of competition in your children would not hurt. Approach other families in the neighborhood and challenge them to a game of baseball, basketball or tag. Sports has always promoted self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment, especially for children. It will assist parents in teaching the values of sportsmanship, camaraderie, and how to handle losing.

To have more fun and establish a team spirit, consult your neighbors to have color-coded shirts or caps per household. After which, everybody can set a picnic to reward the kiddos and the oldies too.

Exercise for a cause
Walkathons and marathons are all over the covers and newspapers and on TV ads lately. Aside from the importance of exercise, why not teach your children another virtue by exercising for a cause. This will make exercise more relevant to your kids, knowing that they are walking/running not just for themselves, but also to help other people. Check the local newspaper and
surf the internet for upcoming events.

Eat together
Last but not the least, this is a personal favorite. After all has been said and done, I suggest that the family eat and dine together as much as possible. If you have abided by any of these suggestions, your family is just as deserving of a hefty, sumptuous but balanced lunch out or dinner. This is a sure way of monitoring your own as well as your children’s eating habit; and a great opportunity to knit a healthier family bond.

As the saying goes, “Great dialogues happen at the dining table”. Who says exercise and family time are immiscible?

What I am suggesting, however, is indeed easier said than done. There is no question about the amount of effort one should dedicate to persuade each member of the family to exercise.

There is no short cut. There is no instant remedy. We can override this concern however because bottom line is, we care for our family. I am very much certain that although these guidelines might be a tall order, we all value family first—with its health following in a close second. And we will do everything in our capacity to ensure the family’s well-being.

What better way to deepen togetherness in the family than to exercise as a family. With a small investment in time, money and energy, the benefits of exercise with the whole family no doubt would pay enormous dividends in the long run. You know what they say, “The family that exercises together, stays togetherl”

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