Sure, we all know it. Exercise is good for us. But life is busy, and sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to go to the gym. Exercise becomes yet another thing on our “to do” list that we need to squeeze in, right after our dentist appointment and right before getting the groceries.
But what if we looked at exercise as an opportunity to set an example for our kids? What if we chose to exercise as a means of exemplifying a healthy lifestyle, so that our kids could follow in our footsteps?
Before I had kids of my own, I was big into long distance running. There was nothing better than waking up on a beautiful Saturday morning, and tearing up the pavement for hours on end, with a good set of tunes on my headphones. Once the kidlets arrived, however, my workout routine changed. All of a sudden, I was struggling to squeeze in a quick 20 minute workout, and feeling guilty for taking any time at all for myself.
But then I realized something. If I let exercise take a backseat in my life, my kids will do the same. I started to see exercise as an opportunity. An opportunity to teach my kids that exercise should be a priority, no matter what.
So nowadays, I try to ensure that my kids see me lace up my running shoes as often as possible. I tell them about my weekday workouts at the dinner table, and I invite them to join me for a bike ride on weekends. Play time often includes wrestling matches, dance parties, and running races around the tree. I ask the kids to help me carry heavy things, and I point out how incredible it is to be able to use our muscles. I make a point of commenting on how strong my son and daughter are, and I applaud their ability to jump, skip, and fly through the air.
We stay active, and I am reassured that my kids will grow up understanding that exercise is simply something we do every day. And why would it be any other way?
If you’re looking for a little inspiration on incorporating exercise into your family life, check out these amazing books, available at the library:
The busy body book: a kid’s guide to fitness
by Lizzy Rockwell
Lizzy Rockwell explains how your bones and muscles, heart and lungs, nerves and brain all work together to keep you on the go. Kids walk and skate and tumble through these pages with such exuberance that even sprouting couch potatoes will want to get up and bounce around–and that’s the ultimate goal.
Oh the things you can do that are good for you!
(Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library)
The Cat in the Hat explains the importance of eating right, staying active, and getting enough sleep. Also includes fun suggestions for children to increase their activity throughout the day, plus a few healthy recipes for parents to prepare for their hungry broods.
You are a lion! : and other fun yoga poses
by Taeeun Yoo
With simple instructions and bright, clear illustrations, award-winning artist Taeeun Yoo invites children to enjoy yoga by assuming playful animal poses. And she sparks their imagination further by encouraging them to pretend to be the animal – to flutter like a butterfly, hiss like a snake, roar like a lion and more.
by Doreen Cronin
For energetic toddlers (are there any who aren’t? ), here’s a book that invites them to wiggle along with the story. Told in rollicky, wiggly rhyme that begs to be read again and again, Doreen Cronin’s latest romp will have toddlers wiggling, giggling, and then (hopefully) falling into bed, blissfully exhausted!
Watch Me Throw the Ball
By Mo Willems
Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to. Gerald and Piggie are best friends In Watch Me Throw the Ball!, Gerald is determined to teach Piggie that ball-throwing is serious business… but Piggie is just as determined to have serious fun.