Guest Author: Dan Chabert
– This article is written by Dan Chabert from Runnerclick.com –
This is great information for those busy families who want to start the New Year with a great exercise routine.
How to: Incorporate Family Into Your Exercise Routine
Once you have a family, suddenly your time is no longer your own. The days of being able to shower as long as you want, eat dinner whenever you want, or simply deciding to lounge in your pajamas all day doing “nothing” are much harder to come by, and it’s likely that you always feel like there’s someone you need to be caring for, meals you need to prepare, diapers you need to change, and the list goes on and on. Many parents feel overworked and overtired and would desperately love to have a 25th hour in every day, but unfortunately, none of us can get a 25th hour, no matter how hard we try!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, many parents often feel like life is pulling them so hard in so many different directions that they have virtually no time or interest in matters of self-care — taking the requisite time to care for their own personal health and well-being — and daily exercising becomes more of a luxury than a necessity. As it stands, though, just like we teach our children, leading an active physical lifestyle is critically important to ensure that you are becoming the healthiest version of yourself that you can be, and we parents are not immune to this statement of fact.
If you’re a parent and find yourself in the trap of wanting to get into a daily exercise habit but feel like there’s no way you can find the time for it, fret not. I can assure you that provided you grant yourself some flexibility and grace, as well as don’t be afraid to get a little creative now and then, you, too, can figure out a way to begin a daily exercise routine. What’s more, it’s totally possible to have a regular fitness routine that involves your family: a win-win for all involved parties.
You’ll find below some of my tried-and-true tips for how you can incorporate your family into your regular exercise routine. The most important lesson I can impart to you here is to be patient and be flexible — but those are lessons you have surely already mastered, thanks to parenthood, right? 🙂 My suggestions:
Run with your children (or push them while you run). Running is an extremely versatile sport, and it’s even one that you can do alongside or with your children, provided you have the right resources available at your disposal. If your children are older, encourage them to run with you. The distance needn’t be long, and the speed doesn’t have to be fast, but something is better than nothing. Kids naturally love to run, so they’ll probably love the opportunity to run with you (and possibly even play tag with you, too! Kids love to chase and be chased). On the other hand, if your children are too young to run, consider investing in a running-specific stroller so that you can push your children while you run. If you’re lucky, you might even get your children to sleep while you run. Stroller running is a great strength workout, too, so don’t be too surprised if you find that post-run you’re more tired or perhaps even a little more sore than you’re accustomed to.
Ride bikes as a family. Many of us have heartwarming memories of riding our bicycles as children, so if you’re into bike riding, yourself, why not get the rest of your family in on the act? If your children are older, they can ride along with you, but if your children are too young to ride just yet, you could consider purchasing a bike trailer accessory that would allow you to pull them behind you while you ride your bike. Of course, take all the necessary safety precautions when you ride bicycles with your family — such as ensuring that everyone has a properly-fitting helmet — but otherwise, expect to share many miles riding together with your loved ones: creating great family memories in the process while also getting your daily dose of fitness, too.
Become a family of yogis. Yoga is an amazing activity and one that you can do in the comfort of your own home, thanks to many at-home programs that are available all over the internet. Yoga is also a great activity for families because more often than not, you can easily scale the practice to your comfort and experience level — which is great if some people in your family are more advanced in their practice than others. There are even some family-focused yoga practices out there that I’ve seen and done, and they’re a blast. Taking the time to meditate together as a family — while also increasing your physical flexibility — can do wonders for your mental health, too. A little goes a long way.
Just go for a walk (or hike). If you want to show your children that regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, one of the best (and easiest!) things you can do as a family is to simply go for a walk. It could be through a local mall or through the outdoor wilderness; it doesn’t really matter, in my opinion. Teaching your children from a young age that they can literally take themselves places with their own two feet is invaluable. Again, it doesn’t matter for how long or how fast you hike or walk; what matters is that you do it alongside your family and show your kids, en route, how much more they can experience their world when they discover it on foot. (And again, as an added benefit, walking incurs all sorts of exercise-related benefits, so everyone wins!).
As parents, it can be really tough to find a way to take care of our families without also neglecting our own health and well-being, and unsurprisingly, many parents have a lot of trouble when it comes time to figuring out how they can exercise each day while also juggling the day-to-day demands that life brings. With a little creativity and flexibility, as I explained in my tips above, it’s actually more feasible than it seems to incorporate your family into your daily exercise routine. It becomes a win-win situation for everyone, and perhaps the best benefit is that your children will grow up with a sense that regular physical activity is a normal part of a healthy lifestyle.
Dan is an entrepreneur from Copenhagen, Denmark. He manages several websites when not preparing for a race. He also loves to travel.