5 Things Your Children Can Teach You About Fitness

The following is a guest post by Sarah Clachar of Fit Family Together. Simple Kids is so pleased to welcome Sarah for a series this week about family fitness.  Enjoy!

Ah, personal trainers . . . How can you not feel inspired to get fit when confronted by someone who feels confident in spandex and looks like they’re good friends with the weight machine.

However, truth be told, these guys and gals have nothing on the 2- to 3-foot-high fitness experts any mom has close at hand – your kids.

When it comes to folks who know about moving your body, children put most fitness gurus to shame.

My two kids have taught me oodles about how to make fitness easier and more enjoyable.
What’s more, I’ve found that joining them in their activity is much better than trying to sneak fitness in when they’re napping (along with everything else on your to-do list!)  Family fitness beats going solo hands down!

So here are 5 important things you can learn from your very own in-house personal trainers, your kids:

Kid Fitness Inspiration #1: Just Move!

I can’t count the times I’ve said to my son, “Can’t you just sit still for a few minutes?!” Familiar, huh?

Well, consider turning this source of frustration into inspiration.

Just recently the American Cancer Society came out with a startling statistic: If you sit more than 6 hours a day, you are 40% more likely to die early than someone who sits for less than 4 hours a day.  And get this – it doesn’t matter if you exercise for an hour a day. If you’re sitting 6+ hours, you’re still risking an early end.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have already demonstrated that low-key movement throughout the day can do more to help you stay slim than gym workouts.

So follow your kids’ example and sit still less, move more. Stand up and wiggle your hips when you’re on the phone. Read a book pacing back and forth. Walk and talk with your spouse.

And bring more movement into daily activities. Here’s one of my favorites: Make small sidekicks as you brush your teeth. Do this 10 times each side. It keeps me brushing longer too!

Watch your kids wind their way through tasks for great ideas.

Kid Fitness Inspiration #2: Have Fun

Unlike most of us dogged adults, kids don’t move because they have to. They move because they want to. And they won’t move if it isn’t fun!

So have fun with fitness. Put on dance tunes and dance with your kiddos. Play tag. Learn how to rock climb. See how many funny walks you and your kids can invent and do laps around the yard.

Kids live by this rule: You’re more likely to do something if it’s fun.

Kid Fitness Inspiration #3: Break It Up

Who says you have to get those 45 minutes of exercise into your day at one time? Kids don’t do that!
No, they’ll jump down the steps. And then they’ll lay down and read. And then get up and do pirouettes in the kitchen (yes, while you’re getting lunch ready!) And then sit and eat. And then get up and run away from you, yelling, “Mom, try to get me!”

In fact, they know what researchers have taken years and millions of dollars to figure out: We get more fitness benefits out of short bursts of intense exercise than long hauls.

So instead of a long jog, do a few sprints in 15 minutes. And later on sneak in some crunches. And then join your child for a few pirouettes . . .

Kid Fitness Inspiration #4: Learn Through Fitness

Early childhood development expert Gill Connell explains that the reason kids love to crawl through things, go under and climb on top of stuff is that they are using these experiences to learn.
They use these physical activities to get to know their body and world.

And we should too. When you’re moving, enjoy the process of discovery. Sometimes our ego gets in the way and we stop learning new movements and skills out of embarrassment. Follow your children’s leadership and try something new – learn how to ski, take a Zuumba class, try a new yoga move.

Take note of how your body and your understanding of your body is changing.

Kid Fitness Inspiration #5: Take Pride In It

How many times have you heard, “Mommy, look at me, look at me!” when you’re at the playground?
Your children take great pride in the ways they’re mastering movement. And you can too.

Even if you don’t have someone around to applaud you, applaud yourself. Take a moment to notice how you’ve gotten stronger or more agile. This simple moment of recognition can do enormous good in keeping you moving forward with fitness.

So no need to pay a hefty personal trainer fee. Make use of the real experts. Keep an eye on how your children go through their day. Learn from them. Mimic them. You’ll be surprised at the fitness results you gain.

Sarah Clachar is a mom, wife, professional health writer, organic farmer, avid mountain biker and hiker. She is also founder of FitFamilyTogether.com, where you can find tips, inspiration and strategies for making family fitness part of your family life. If you hop over there right now, you can sign up for her free 7-Day Fit Family Together Challenge and get your very own family fitness plan started.

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. This is great information for families! Fitness is a lot more fun when done together! 🙂
    Paula@Simply Sandwich´s latest post: Don’t Take The Car!

  2. If we watch kids who are encouraged to play and explore, they will show us how to be in shape! Love the steps you have here in this post, especially about making it fun!
    Living the Balanced Life´s latest post: Pretty Neat giveaway!

  3. Agreed! And totally justifies shaking your booty in a rather unseemly way with great vigor when a fun pop song comes on the radio. Just saying… Take that, disapproving neighbor – it’s all about being inspired by the kiddies! 😀
    Summer´s latest post: Back From a Chilly- Rainy Week in Michigan


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