Nope, it’s not pizza. (Although that might also work.) The way to my heart is through my kids. It might be tough to convince me I DESERVE to take out of the day to exercise and feel better about myself, however, if you tell me my kids deserve something, I’ll wholeheartedly agree, and probably respond with a big, fat, “Duh, of course they do.” That’s a parent thing. We always want to give more to our kids than we give to ourselves.
And Here’s How it Went Down
Hypothetically speaking, if one were to notice that one’s children were playing an EXCESSIVE amount of X-Box, one would likely try to find ways to counteract that by suggesting alternative activities. Right? And one did. And it went downhill FAST. Ok, hypotheticals aside, in today’s video-game-riddled, online world, it’s pretty easy to let things get out of hand quickly…and that happened. In an effort to make up for a combination of busy schedules, cold weather, and a bit of slack parenting, I made the mistake of suggesting a walk around the neighborhood on a particularly sunny day. The reaction I received from my almost-9-year-old son was…ahem…less than enthusiastic.
“Why do we have to do THAT?!”
“That’s so boring, and it makes my legs burn.” This was followed by several minutes of undecipherable whimpering noises that I can only assume were meant to be words.
Long Story Short
Here’s what I’ve learned. First, it IS ok to take time out of the day to focus on my health and wellbeing, and that is NOT detrimental to my family. However, secondly—and very important—is the fact that my kids see what I do and benefit from participating in healthy activities with me. Not only do they see it, they emulate it. No, I don’t sit around playing X-Box; in fact, I’m so uncoordinated that I haven’t been able to function in the video game world since the old days of Atari systems and single joysticks. However, and this is a BIG one, they do see me skipping out of my old exercise routine, coming home and immediately putting on my pajamas, and reaching for my laptop or a book instead of a kettlebell.
And Here’s the Learn-y Bloggy Part
Exercise is not just for losing weight and gaining muscle. Exercise can help with a whole list of other things, not the least of which is building better bonds with family and friends. Setting aside the kiddos for just a second, for years, studies have shown that individuals who work out with a buddy have a better chance of reaching their physical goals than those who work out alone. This is largely do the accountability factor and the fact that you’ve got someone who’s not only in your corner, but also someone who’s promised to kick your butt if you start to flounder, flip-flop, or just plain flub up by not going to the gym. Think about the reason you’re so adamant about making it to the box every day. Yes, a lot of it has to do with the health and fitness goals you’ve set for yourself, but the people there also make it like a family—a large family of like-minded people who will keep you in line and on point when it comes to fulfilling your commitments to yourself.
In addition to helping you form great relationships, both with exercise buddies and with the kiddos you drag away from the game consoles, exercise can:
- Boost your mood—and even alleviate symptoms of PMS (Girls, can I get a woot, woot!?)
- Strengthen bones and joints.
- Improve creativity. (Writer’s block, be gone!)
- Lower the risk of disease (and even keep age-related vision loss at bay!).
- Help you live longer.
- Give you a better view of your body.
- Make you feel AND look younger.
- Do about a million more things that are good for us.
And the Scary Part About What’s Going On
- Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years.
- It has more than QUADRUPLED in that same time frame for adolescents.
- Obesity increases the risk for diabetes, bone and joint problems, as well as other health concerns and social and psychological problems.
- The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill did a recent study showing Americans get approximately 60% of their caloric intake (THAT’S A LOT OF FROZEN PIZZAS) from highly processed foods like soda, chips, snacks, and candy.
- Although we KNOW the benefits of a healthy diet and healthy lifestyle, our buying habits continue to be much the same as they were years ago, with processed foods loading up our grocery carts.
It’s easier to let my kids play X-box while I write on my laptop, read books, peruse magazines, and whatnot. (Whatnot is code for eating Girl Scout cookies.) However, not only am I contributing to a growing problem, I am encouraging my kids to do exactly what I’m doing, which is exactly nothing. So yes, kiddos, sometimes our legs burn when we take walks or play lawn darts or challenge each other to high-stakes dodgeball, but we’re going to take advantage of these sunny days and, by golly, we’re going to go on the nature trail and we’re going to have fun. (Yes, I know it’s itchy, and yes, I’m pretty sure you’ll survive.) Because I said so!