Involving the whole family is the best way to promote better eating habits and healthy activities for your kids.
Why Is It So Hard to Exercise?
Anyone can have a hard time making exercise part of their routine. But throw kids into the mix, and it can almost feel impossible.
Why is it so hard for busy parents to exercise? Often it comes down to motivation.
“Parents typically don’t get enough sleep and spend their days constantly responding to needs of another human being.”
“That combination is emotionally and physically draining, which leads to less motivation for physical activity.”
A reason to be an active parent: You’ll set a great example for your kid. “Children learn behavior by what they see around them, and it starts early.” “So when kids see their parents exercise, they become likelier to be active as adults.”
A whole-family approach simply means that everyone — parents and kids alike — works together as a team to achieve good health and well-being. As with any team, there’s a leader or coach — and that’s you!
- Lead by example. Adult family members are important role models for healthy eating and exercise. Talk about why you eat fruit as a snack, take an exercise class, or go for walks.
- Start ’em young. Don’t wait until your child is at an unhealthy weight to institute good eating and activity habits. It’s much easier to maintain a healthy weight than to lose pounds later.
- Be active together. Make it usual for the family to be active, not sedentary. Being active as a family allows kids to expend energy in a positive way, and adults get the health benefits, too.
- Cook together. It may not be possible to do it every day, but invite kids into the process of preparing food. Little kids can learn math skills by measuring and they’ll begin to understand the chemistry of cooking. They’ll also gain an understanding of healthy ingredients.Older kids will enjoy having the authority to choose and prepare foods they like and will be more likely to eat what they’ve made. It might even inspire them to make healthy choices on their own.
- Eat together. Eating a meal as a family sends the right messages about nutrition. Kids will see their parents eating healthy food and may want to try new foods. They’ll also see mealtime as a time for socializing and sharing. Parents get a chance to offer nutritious food, note their kids’ likes and dislikes, and talk about daily triumphs and troubles.
Family Goals Chart
If you’re trying to build healthier family habits, a goal chart is a good way to keep score. A chart, posted on the refrigerator or other highly visible spot, can remind family members to pay attention to eating and exercise habits.
Choose family goals, such as exercising every day and eating fruits and vegetables. Keep track of and praise those who meets their goals. And when the whole family achieves the goals, do something fun together to celebrate.
Try these tricks to tap into some surprising sources of motivation, making it easier than ever to reach your fitness goals.
Become an early bird. Willpower isn’t an unlimited resource — the more you use it throughout the day, the less you have left at night to force yourself to go to the gym. That’s why some people get in their workouts in the morning, when their drive is at its maximum levels.
And that’s not the only reason to become a morning exerciser. “If you wait until later in the day, it’s a lot likelier that things will pop up and get in the way of working out.”
“Your kids go to bed early, so do the same. That way you can wake up and work out, knowing that you’ve already done something for yourself that day.”
Get other people involved. “Parents love family time, which is why that often gets priority over exercising.” Combine the two and you’ll be motivated to move since you’re doing something you love — spending time with your kids. There are a lot of physical activities that are good for all ages. Go play Frisbee in the park, play tag, go on a bike ride, or work in the garden.
Set smaller goals. “Most of the time, people don’t work out because it seems like an intimidating, daunting task.”
“But you don’t have to spend an hour at the gym to be active — there are lots of little ways to make everyday activities and chores just a little harder. And it’s so much easier to fit 10 minutes of movement into your day every few hours than find a larger chunk of time in your schedule.”