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Your Child Needs To See You Exercise, A Doctor-Mom Explains Why
  • Well, the answer here is pretty obvious: kids tend to copy what we do, almost everything, and absorb and mirror our actions. So, why should exercise be any different?

    There are several reasons why we need to keep good physical activity in the top tier of our priorities in our family life. We know that exercising in general has heaps of benefits to our health. It has been proven time and again that it has a role in balancing not only our physical metabolism but even so for our mental health.

    And I get it—we do yearn it especially when we were previously active prior to parenthood, we acknowledge the fact that we need it, but some factors like lack of time and motivation often hinder our ability to maintain a consistent exercise routine.

    Nevertheless, we should always strive to find the strongest reason why we need to exercise. To do so, we can look to our children for inspiration. Setting an example of an active lifestyle can lay the foundation for a healthy life for them. As the saying goes, "It is easier to build up children than to heal them when they are adults."


    READ ALSO: 5 Easy-To-Do-At-Home Exercises After The Baby Is Born

    Finding your 'why' for working out

    When determining our ultimate motivation, we can draw inspiration from our kids.

    One suggestion is to write and make a list of reasons why we need to start defying our sedentariness. As a parent with an active toddler and a demanding career, one of my driving forces is the desire to keep up with play after a long day's work. Exercise helps develop strength and stamina, enabling active play with our kids.

    Another reason could be a family history of chronic metabolic diseases, such as Diabetes Mellitus type 2 and Hypertension. By setting an example of self-care, we can help prevent these illnesses not only in ourselves but also in our children who observe our healthy habits.

    In making these goals, we need to keep them realistic, applicable, and sustainable for our family. If we have a partner, we need to make it as a joint decision, and if we are single parents, we need to make a strong commitment to ourselves. If we are starting to doubt ourselves, we can always go back to our reasons why we are doing this.

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    How to start working out with kids

    As busy parents whose plates are already full, finding the time to workout seems challenging. However, exercise does not have to be on a daily, hour-long commitment. We can do it in the confines of our home or outdoors.

    1. Start small

    At home, a 10- 15 minute routine of low or high-impact exercises can bring about a lot of health benefits already by reactivating our metabolism.

    2. Involve your kids

    Let your kids join in! If you are worried about the hazards of equipment, you don’t need any. Your body can serve as a weight itself. Some examples of exercises where kids can join in are cardio exercises such as dance or aerobics, or a 20-minute high intensity interval training (HIIT). You don’t have to do everyday- twice a week is enough.


    You can also do low impact exercises such as yoga or pilates. Good thing with technology is that streaming channels have available videos for exercises for kids.

    Pilates: Bakit Kinagigiliwan Ito Nina Jennylyn, Pauleen At Iba Pang Celebrity Moms

    3. Begin where you are

    On your days off or weekends, consider going for a walk or a hike. A 30-minute daily walk is an excellent cardio exercise to keep your heart healthy. I bet we can do this on a daily basis with kids who has lots of energy to shed. If you live near Quezon City, check out this hiking spot.

    4. Try a new sport

    If you want to learn a sport, why not learn it with your kids? You can always start at any stage of your life. If your kids get distracted easily, you can set up a timer and plan with them.

    Aside from setting an example for your kids, we also need to affirm them of the efforts they are doing with you. We have to proactively make this as a bonding moment with our kids so that it can be sustainable.


    READ ALSO: Strong And Independent Mama: How Motherhood Led Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio To Turn Her Health And Wellness Around

    Benefits of working out for you and your kids

    Obviously, the health benefits are tremendous, but moving is just as good to your body as it is to your mental health.

    1. Produces endorphins or happy hormones

    Doing exercise for yourself and/or with your kids produces the "happy hormones" or endorphins in the brain, so when you achieve that happy state and when your kids are doing it with you, such joy it is to be in your home.

    Any movement routine both for adults and kids help us regulate our nervous system and in turn help us manage stress, anxiety and depression. An article entitled, “Self-care for kids: 6 ways to self-regulate” by Amanda Morin, an educational and neurodiversity consultant in the United States, mentioned that, moving around can help increase blood flow to the brain and help us think clearly.


    2. Supports children's growth and health

    Aside from brain hormones, exercise triggers the release of the human growth hormone, which is responsible for the growth of children. It also enhances muscle and skeletal growth by utilizing protein in the body. This is essential for growing kids.

    Because we are increasing our metabolism through exercise, we are also keeping preventable diseases at bay and we can promote confidence in our bodies and increase our self-esteem. This also serves as a teaching example for children in terms of their self-esteem. We can also inspire them to try and join in a sport. If they have basic strength and endurance, this can be enhanced when they try physical activities based on their interests.

    Oh, the many things we can encourage our kids to do just by bonding with them through exercise! Parenting is already hard enough, why don’t we add on some healthy adventure with our kids to keep the fun?


    About the author: Lizzie Ayento- Torres, MD is a contributing writer for Smart Parenting. She is a mum of a curious, cheeky toddler, and she tries to balance family life and medical career. She currently lives in Sydney, Australia.

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