Creating a fit and healthy family
We all know that we should exercise regularly, but how we do turn that obligatory feeling into fun, healthy habits? As a parent, you don’t have to tell me there is always another pull on your time. But with a little bit of conscious thought, there’s no reason why exercising can’t become part of your weekly routine as a healthy family. And here’s why…
Lead by example.
Simple once you think about it, but so easily forgotten. We organise many activities for our children and either drop them off or stay to watch them perhaps swim or play football, but we don’t take part ourselves. Children love, love, love role models, and as parents we have a window of opportunity to impress them. We just have to make sure it’s with as many healthy habits as possible. That could be as simple as going for a walk after Sunday lunch. We’re lucky to have some fantastic walks close by, one an area of common land with wooded walking routes. When our oldest two were little, we’d play out The Gruffalo, time after time, or spot interesting fungi and lichen growing along the way. You’re exploring, so guess what? No one notices how far you’ve actually walked.
Did you know that exercise creates a wave of positive reactions in the body, that continue long after you’ve finished exercising? While the science is complex, and the exact reason for it disagreed on, what we do know is exercise makes you feel good and helps to stave off depression. So what better way could there be for blowing away the cobwebs – and family fights! – than with a bike ride, a swim or a running race.
As adults, most of us think about exercise as a way of maintaining a figure or as a mechanism to achieve a certain weight. Obviously weight management is a key benefit of regular exercise (and by starting exercise early you’re shaping a future for your children more likely to be free of obesity), but it’s just one of the ways exercise can keep us in good shape. Exercise for all the family helps keep little and big hearts alike strong and healthy, blood and cholesterol levels low, strengthens the lungs, and improves energy levels. Exercise is undoubtedly what we all need in our lives.
No I in team.
Your family is your team, and no doubt they are your biggest supporter, as well as your biggest critic! However, as a parent, it is our unenviable role to take that team leader role. I have always remembered what was probably intended as an innocuous comment given by a passer-by while I was pushing my weeks’ old daughter in her pram: “It never gets easier, it just changes.” As much as I didn’t want to believe it, that passer-by was damn right. But taking part in activities as a team, rather than a family can help change that dynamic every once in a while. Perhaps you’re on a scavenger hunt or playing rounders. What’s different is you’re more likely to be working together rather than the assumed hierarchy. The result? You’ll be developing deeper, richer family bonds.
Have I made it sound easy? I hope so. Because all it takes are a couple of small changes, and you can become an all-round healthy family; one that’s happier, fitter and leaner. Apparently it takes 28 days to form a habit, so go on – make family exercise a routine this autumn. If you hurry, you might find some conkers left among the leaves.
Our last Mud Kids event of the year is on 30th October in Dorking, and will have a Halloween theme. Mud Kids is a great way to get kids and parents to have fun together, taking on mud, obstacles and countryside together across a 2.5km course. And at Halloween, you can take part in fancy dress! We’d love to see you there.