When I speak to busy moms about their fitness goals and what steps they could take to achieve them, the main barrier that is stated is time. Moms more then anyone I talk to feel conflicted about setting time aside for themselves to achieve their goals. This includes all goals not just fitness goals. Often in order to help them, I need to help them identify ways that they can get the entire family involved so that they don’t feel selfish. Now I could go on forever about why your taking time for your health and fitness is the least selfish thing you could do for yourself and your family but I will hold that for another post. Instead, today we will talk about how you can get the entire family involved in your fitness goals.
Fitness set up so that the entire family can participate can be a fun way to spend time together. Getting the family involved is a way to enjoy the activities you are doing even more then when you do them alone. Here are some fun things to consider when designing activities that the entire family can participate in:
1: Go for a walk:
Next time you are heading out as a family, plan a pit stop for a family walk. Find a local park or trail and go exploring. I know near me we have a Rail Trail. The local government funded replacing old unused railways lines and creating a walking/running/biking trail that stretches about 13 miles. It is a beautiful escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life and a fun place to explore. Along the way you hear so many animals sounds. If you have a young family guess the animal noise could be a fun game. Also, there are historical posts that teach the history of the railroad. I know the boys in my family will do anything if it is connected to history. Find those little family passions and connect them to movement to keep them interested and, at times, unaware they are even doing anything that is healthy.
2: Family Games/Competitions:
Organize your own family into teams. Assign team colors and get dressed for the competitions. Let each team pick a team name and make signs to cheer for their team. Fun games and activities, that you select or your kids select, will keep your family energized and moving. Letting everyone select a portion of the competition will keep everyone motivated to complete the day because they are personally invested. Also, if they don’t love Basketball but they know they are going to be able to play tag later they will be motivated to keep playing. Think a summer balloon relay race or obstacle course in your backyard, and maybe even invite the neighbors! Aim to have as much fun as possible without keeping score or worrying about winning or losing. No matter what the focus should be having fun! The more fun you have the more likely you and your family will continue playing in the future.
3: Be spontaneous
One thing people can grow to resent about fitness is the structure and routine. (i.e. Every Tuesday I am going to lift weight to focus on my legs.) Get your family moving by playing a spontaneous game of tag. Don’t feel like you need to be super creative. Do cartwheels in the front yard. It doesn’t matter if it is basic, tradition, creative or silly. Just move and have fun doing it. If the family is sitting and watching a TV show together, get up and move during the commercials. Pick 2-3 movements and do them until the show comes back on and do that during each commercial. Each activity will add up over time! Less structure may create the belief in your family that movement is just something we do not something we have to do!
4: Kick it up a notch
If you are ready for a full fitness program, let the family see what you are doing. Don’t hide away. Lots of people I work with take their at home fitness dvd program and hide in a room in the house, like the basement, where no one else goes to work out in private. Let the kids come and watch you workout. Let them try to do some of the sections with you. Your positive healthy choices will impact their future decisions. There are lots of videos on youtube of parents doing fitness programs and the kids mimicking them in the background. There is no parent that doesn’t want to be that influence for their children. One mom I worked with picked an at home program that she knew her kids would think was fun so that they could dance along to the music while she did the fitness routine. Structure can be fun too. It’s all a state of mind.
5: Write it down
No matter what you decide to do, write it down. Write down everything you did together as a family. Kids love measuring things, setting goals and celebrating success. Create a chart or use a calendar. Tracking the day’s exercises and events and place stickers for a quick visible reference. Get your children involved in tracking the results. Your family will enjoy seeing progress and you can feel proud in knowing you’re a part of a family that has made having a healthy lifestyle a priority.