Monday, January 19, 2009

Exercising With Your Kids

It’s no surprise that kids imitate what they see. You know how it is—you’ve had a long day and a crisis comes up and a choice word slips out of your mouth. Days go by, your sweet little grandmother comes for a visit, and little Johnny takes that opportunity to parrot what he heard. We’ve all been there.

Thankfully, this also works in reverse. Children will mirror the positive behavior they see as well, although we tend not to notice this trend quite as much. (That’s because our hands are still clapped over our eyes from the last embarrassment we suffered because of little Johnny. That child is such a scamp.)

Right now in America, 58 million adults are overweight. 40 million of those are obese, and 3 million are morbidly obese. Between 16% and 33% of our children and adolescents are obese. These children are growing up to become part of the 58 million overweight adults, or even the 3 million morbidly obese. These are frightening statistics.

So, what are we going to do to help our children avoid falling into this trap?

We’re going to get ourselves out of the trap. We’re going to change our own eating habits and exercise patterns, and make it a family project. We can’t expect our children to go outside and play if they never see us go outside and play. We can’t expect them to eat their vegetables if we don’t eat ours. We must set the example for our children.

I get a big kick out of exercising with my children. I pop in a Richard Simmons tape and we all boogie. My four-year-old just grooves, no matter what the music. He’s totally unconscious of what others might be thinking. My twelve-year-old gets hung up on “doing it right,” although I keep telling her there’s no such thing as doing it “right,” but to just keep moving and it’s all good. The important thing is that we’re exercising, and the fact that we’re doing it together only makes it more fun. It’s a bonding time, the children are learning that health is important, and it encourages me to exercise on days when I might not feel up to it otherwise.

The examples we set as parents are crucial. We are being watched every minute. Our children are either taking notes for their own future behavior, or they’re making vows to be nothing like us. If we want our children to be healthy, we need to model that for them, and there is no more powerful model than doing it with them. Let’s all be healthier, together.

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Jenn said...

It's pretty sad to hope that our kids "do as we say, not as we do." We need to be doing the right things and they will naturally follow suit. Well, not in everything. It doesn't matter how many times they see me do the dishes . . . LOL. But, really, if they see a strong work ethic in me (once I get one) they will be more likely to develop one themselves, and they'll be doing the dishes one day. When they're not living at home anymore. :D

Melanie said...

So you mean to tell me when my two year old heads to the pantry exclaiming she needs to get some coping skills and breaks off a piece of chocolate bar she's learned that from someone? That's a stretch! She never mimmicks me exercising...oh, wait. Yeah, I'm with you now.

Thanks for the motivation:)

Cindy Beck said...

What you've said is so true. And one of the best things we can do wiht our kids is play with them, and do "lifetime" sports with them. Tennis, sand lot baseball and basketball, aerobics, swimming, hiking ... the list has many choices.

Janette Rallison said...

I walk every night and my kids love to go around the block with me. It gives them some uninterupted mommy time and some exercise too.

Anna said...

As crazy as Richard Simmons can be, I like his exercise videos. I like seeing others with weight problems (some heavier than me), and knowing that if they can do it, I can do it.

My 4 and 3 year old love to dance to the music too. As soon as this c-section heals good enough, I can't wait to start exercising again.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Last month I started using a balance ball for exercise & have a few DVD's with exercises using the ball. It's hilarious because now when my kids get out their play balls, they sit on them, lay down and stretch their backs, and imitate other exercise positions I do each day, too. It's very cute. I especially love to see my almost two year old try out a few of the moves on her smaller ball. What a fun experience it's been. My kids also love going to the gym with me and doing their "exercises" in the kids play area while Mommy works on the big people machines.

Nichole Giles said...

You're right, of course. Kids love that song, "Do As I'm Doing, Follow, Follow, Me." Where do you think that came from anyway?

Our twelve-year-old thinks she needs a gym membership of her own. Since they're pretty expensive, I've told her she can use the gym at her school--where she's already taking an extra PE class.

But my husband and I have both been faithful with our gym attendance for years, and because of that, our children are active too. Now, if only I could get them to do dishes and laundry...

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