I’ve been training for years to run 10k next month, and I know how difficult it is to juggle having an active lifestyle and family life. Fitness seems to sound like it’s a distraction to family time. However, I have actually learned to do that, and in fact able to encourage my wife and kids to stay active with me as well.
Unlike baseball, badminton, or swimming, running can fit any level or ability. And take it from me – it does work for families with kids of any age and background. I’m sure you’ve heard of more stories like mine of how exercise, such as running and other physical activities, has helped improve the relationship of parents and children in every aspect. It strengthens the bond between partners, enhances the cognitive function, which is especially important for the kids, and it ultimately helps improve the overall health of the family. And individually it “Made me aware of my deeper thoughts, ideas and feelings, as well as the sensations and joys of the movement of my body” as stated by Noora Ronkainen, PhD and an experienced endurance runner.
In conjunction with running and different types of exercise, there are also other equally important things you can do to maintain or improve your family’s well-being.
- Consider Nutrition. Research about what’s healthy and unhealthy for everyone. To make it more fun and enriching, include your children in the preparation of meals and snacks. This is so that they can learn about the relationship between eating healthy and staying active, which may motivate them to eat more vegetables and other superfoods. If they’re initially not into the greens, throw some in the sauces or soups so they won’t notice.
- Encourage The Children To Use Their Energy Positively. Outdoor activities reduce stress and anxiety and enhance concentration. Endorphins are especially abundant in energetic kids, and it would be great if they know how to channel these endorphins into a positive and healthy outlet, which is exercise. You and your partner do have these endorphins too, and if you run or exercise with her and the kids, then it only means a happier and healthier family.
- Get Your Family Excited About Running. Not all kids are that easy to convince that exercise is an awesome way to be fun. If yours are among the difficult ones to persuade, perhaps you can try and disguise the exercise as a game that doesn’t necessarily take much effort to do, that it’s not a chore. Go to the park, for starters. Divide yourselves into two teams, one kid for each you and your wife. The rule is to find a route that will take you to the carnival or the movie theater via running, jogging, or walking. The team to arrive first wins, and gets a pass to the snacks and movies! Because the thing with running, as stated by Josh King, PsyD, “Running can be a very cathartic act. You can run hard, or jog slowly. You can do it at your own pace.” Meaning that running can always be beneficial as long as you just run.
- Incorporate Health Into Their Gadgets. Nowadays, people, including parents like us, can’t live without technology. Kids particularly are becoming less interested in going outdoors and joining physical activities either with friends or family. However, as parents, we must find a compromise, and we can find that in children’s apps that are great at getting them to run, dance, or walk – whatever healthy movements one can think of. The Nike mobile app is an example of a program that is geared toward helping families run together and record each of the member’s speed. The program has proven itself beneficial, and teenagers have been tracking their progress and excited to run not only to stay fit but to receive special gifts from Nike.
- Set Short-Term And Long-Term Goals. You can set the short-term goal to be something that the kids want to have or go over the weekend, like an overnight stay at their cousins’ or that new pair of sneakers. Set it so that they can run at least three or four times during the week at a given speed. The long-term goal would be nice if it were something that the whole family can do, such as an interstate vacation when school ends. The motivation and interests peaks when aiming for goals that everybody will love.
- Join Free Weekly Runs. You have trained together as a family, and assuming you’ve been doing well, a free weekly run organized by the community would make a wonderful experience. Weekly runs are usually less than 5 kilometers, and the rules are not at all rigid. According to Michele Kerulis Ed.D. “It is important for runners to acknowledge their minor improvements—this can help runners realize that step by step, they are one day closer to keeping their commitment to themselves.” You can jog or walk when you’re exhausted, and you can even stop if you think you can’t make a finish. You can start your family from there, and then go for the bigger runs after a few months. Go for the 10K or the marathon – go for it together.
Making it to the finish line is such as amazing achievement, but so does losing weight through family dances or workouts, and lifestyle modification for everybody. All this shows off the determination, patience, and teamwork that have helped your family accomplish the goal, which is to improve the family’s well-being by staying active.