By Tracy Lyn Moland
Bet you can't catch me.Running races at Disneyworld, biking races in the mountains, triathlons at lakes - our family holidays are definitely unique. Many of the trips we take as a family revolve around a fitness event. Even our holidays that aren't race base are usually fitness based - hiking, skiing, swimming biking or beach volleyball.
No we are not a fanatical fitness family. We are a family where fitness is not exercise but rather a part of our lifestyle. It is not a normal warm weather weekend if Daddy hasn't gone for a bike ride, Mommy is training for a triathlon and our children are doing laps around the cul-de-sac.
Exercise is not something we do as an extra; it is part of our life. In a society where obesity is rampant, diet books continually top the best seller list and millions of treadmills are being used as clothes racks, fitness doesn't have to be a chore or negative experience. Fitness can be a fun and energizing part of all families' lives.
So how do you make fitness a habit? How do you help your children to include fitness into their lives now so it is a natural addition for the rest of their lives?
1. Have Fun with fitness - My children do not bike, skate or do gymnastics to burn calories or increase their cardiovascular condition; they do it because it is fun and they love it. My husband loves to mountain bike - he actually thinks it is fun to climb a mountain or steep hill (I must admit I think he is a little bit crazy!)
2. Maintain a positive attitude to fitness - always talk about fitness related events in a positive tone. Say "I feel so good after a run" rather than "I better got to the gym today, I am feeling fat."
3. Fit fitness into your life in a variety of ways - As a family dance, walk at the zoo, play games, bike, play tag, swim, play basketball, ski, hike, skate, etc. It doesn't always have to be full effort, as long as, you are moving.
4. Be realistic - Acknowledge that fitness can be hard or challenging on occasions. The first bike ride after a long winter may be difficult. When you are learning something new, you might fall or need to practice. Encourage your family by setting an example as you continue to grow and improve yourself.
5. Experiment to find what you really love - Both adults and children may need to try a few different types of activities before they find ones they really love.
6. Set goals as a family - sign up for events, races or fun events. My family recently participated in the Disneyworld Marathon Weekend. We all ran races from 200 yards to a half marathon. The race was part of a goal we had set to go on a trip to Disneyworld together. We all saved money and trained together. Even if your children don't participate in the actual event make sure to take them along. The atmosphere at fitness events is always thrilling and inspiring. The excitement is contagious and children see a world of fit people
7. Set an example for you children. When you are active, you are teaching your children to be active. They see fitness as a life long habit, something that occurs on a regular basis; not a thing that you have to find ways to ad in.
Fitness is one of those things that we have to do to be healthy but it must and can be fun. Make it a natural and automatic part of your life and children will follow suit!
Next trip - skiing!
Healthy Lifestyles by Example
Use the stairs
Walk where ever you can
Play Frisbee at the park
Go to the zoo rather than a movie
Play tag and chase
Bike to picnics
Get enough sleep
Respect and care for yourself and your body