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Five Ways to Get Fit as a Family- Guest post by Kara Douglass Thom

Posted Nov 29 2011 10:01pm

I don’t want my kids to growup thinking exercise is something grown ups “have” to do. For many adults theprocess of starting an exercise program can seem monumental and looked uponwith dread. Isn’t starting anything always the hardest part? And often, adultsdon’t start exercising because they sincerely want to for the love of fitness,but because of health concerns or to lose excess weight. But if a child growsup with fitness as an integral part of his or her life, there’s no need tostart. As parents we can remove what is most difficult about being fit: gettingstarted.

When my daughters were veryyoung I became aware that fitness needed to be included in parenting. Forfitness to be a family value in our home, I had to make fitness part of theirworld, too.

In the book, Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life asa Fit Mom (Andrews McMeel 2011) an entire secret is devoted to mentoring.If you’re a parent, whether you’re aware of it or not, you are your children’s“fitness mentor.” When parents exercise, their children are more likely to growup to be active adults. I think we can raise those odds when we also exercisetogether.  Sure I still find timeto exercise on my own, but I also seek out ways for my kids to join me whenpossible.

To that extent I've become afirm believer in the family fitness triad: being a fitness mentor to mychildren through my own workouts, helping my children discover their ownfitness passions and finding time to be active together.

Need some ideas to includekids in your workouts? Here are five ideas for family fitness:

1)  Is your child orchildren taking lessons? Sign yourself up, too. Whether it’s swimming, rockclimbing, martial arts, or tennis, learning or perfecting the same skills thatyour child is working on gives you a common fitness goal—great for conversationat the dinner table.
2)  Do you workoutwith a personal trainer? If you have teens or tweens, schedule a group sessiontogether every once in awhile. Request a workout that you can repeat togetherat home or the gym.
3)  Is there anupcoming event you can train together for as a family? If your children are tooyoung to compete, include them in the training process by telling them aboutyour event and your preparation. Simulate an event for them at home or in thepark. 4)  If you have kidswho play in the childcare center while you workout, take advantage of programslike Kids Play, which is a great introduction to “group fitness” for kids.Also, after your workout is over, take 10 or 15 minutes to shoot baskets orengage in a different kind of active play in the kids area before you leave. 5)  Share yourfavorite workout with your kids. They probably know how much you love Zumba orBoot Camp or (fill in the blank with your favorite activity). Create apint-sized workout for them so they can see what it is you do when you goworkout and why you like it so much. The ulterior motive, of course, is thatthey’ll grow up to be your favorite workout partner.

This guest postcomes from Kara Douglass Thom, a triathlete, freelance writer and mother offour. She and Laurie Kocanda are the co-authors of Hot(Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom
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