Monday, August 19, 2013

The Family that Plays Together, Stays Together!

The Family that Plays Together Stays Together

(And stays fit)


Remember when you were a kid?  Ok, if you're my teenage client, you will remember things much differently than some of my clients who are grown with their own children or grandchildren.  What's so strikingly different is the amount of free play incidental exercise that the kids get.  Aren't kids just naturally active, you might ask?  Yes, but our society has change such that they are doing more and more sedentary activities.  "If you take a close look at America's cultural environment over the last 20 to 30 years, weight gain has been almost inevitable", says Joann Donnelly, Director of Total Health for the YMCA of Greater Houston.  "Technology has brought us countless "labor-saving" devices, family mealtime is spent at the drive-thru, and kids (and parents) spend time on computers, not on bikes.  Movement has virtually been stripped out of our lives.

Even the educational system has fewer opportunities for physical activity.  My own daughter didn't like organized sports, and add some asthma into the mix and you have the potential for disaster.  In high school, gym isn't required past a certain number of credits, and so the sedentary kids that aren't in sports are likely to get little to no exercise, setting them up for a lifetime of inactivity.  If parents don't step in for kids like these, they could be headed for bone or joint problems, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  So, if parents have to get involved, what can they do to help out?  A cultural makeover that will strengthen mind, body, and family spirit is family exercise.

Author of "Fat-Proof Your Family", Dr. Ron Eaker, M.D. OB-Gyn says that "exercising with children reprograms kids to understand what is normal, and what is not.  Kids today believe that a sedentary lifestyle is normal.  Studies show that most kids spend an average of 6 hours after school doing sedentary things like TV, computers, and video games.  They have a skewed perception of 'normal'."  Changing the paradigm has to be a family effort, whether it's exercise, or eating healthier.  If the kids see you eating junk food and soda, they will want that, too.  So changing your habits as a family can help everyone to be healthier, feel better, improve temper and behavioral issues, and provide necessary bonding opportunities.

Make the connection as a parent or grandparent--you are the model for your progeny.  They look to you for what is normal and accepted.  They model your behavior and choices.  So you can sign your child up for a program, but if you don't model the healthy behavior as well, the connection loses something in translation.

Perhaps most importantly, exercising together brings families together.  You can't force "quality moments" with your child, so the more time you spend *with them*, the more opportunities present themselves for you to have open and honest communication.

Question:  Would you consider attending a class that incorporated exercise for both you and your children or grandchildren?  Let me know what you think!

No comments:

Post a Comment