Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Workout Wednesday - Kid Exercise

I took the kids to the park today even though it wasn't ideal weather.  I hate being cold and we had to wear jackets and it was so windy.  I sat on the park bench and huddled up, but the weather did not stop my children from taking off their shoes and socks to play in the sand.  They were desperate to play with their buckets and shovels I gave them for Valentines Day. 

It got me thinking about how serious I am about getting my exercise in every day or at least most every day and how grateful I am that they are seeing my good example of fitness.  But, am I doing enough to show my kids how important it is to take care of their own bodies?

Sometimes my children won't even walk a few blocks to go to their friend's house to play, they are always asking me for a ride.  What is up with that?  They complain about having to walk to and from school and it is merely around the corner from our house too.  I have been so tempted to tell them about how I had to walk to school when I was a kid and it was over a mile to get there and I had to cross a major road in the process, (should I add in the snow, uphill both ways?).  But I haven't...yet.

So, I have made a concerted effort to walk where I need to go if it isn't too far and don't have to carry much. My babies love to walk to the park, we play the cable boxes at our neighbor's house like bongo drums, we watch the birds drink from another neighbor's fountain, we discovered a bush full of bees yesterday and we just stood right next to it and stared at them working away, it was mesmerizing.  Sometimes we race from one corner to the next and sometimes we just walk really slow.  When I have my nephews over and we all walk together, I feel like a mother duck with all her ducklings waddling behind her.

It starts when our kids are babies, I told myself it was baby exercise when they would cry and I couldn't get to them right away.  It took away some of the guilt that I had when I couldn't soothe them immediately.  Don't get me wrong, I tried not to let it happen too often, but when I told myself that a little exercise for a baby each day was good for them, I felt better about my parenting.

 As soon as they were old enough to go to the park and play, I let them.  Yes, it was a dirty gross cleanup some of the time, especially when they are still slobbering and crawling, but it is important to their physical growth that they get the chance to explore and play.

Kid exercise involves running around, playing tag or even a simple game of duck-duck-goose, riding bikes, scooters, and skateboards.  Climbing and hanging requires strength in both the large and small muscle groups of their arms and legs.  They learn balance and coordination as they master the monkey bars or climb over the toys.  Even climbing up the slide the wrong way (when nobody else is coming down) is an exellent strength exercise.  Have you tried it?  It is harder than it looks.  These activities are also why I think recess is important in the elementary school years.  Don't even get me started on the social reasons to take your kids to the park.

Think about it and ask yourself if you are doing everything you can to develop a love of exercise in your children.  You are responsible for building that foundation now so that they will be more apt to be active when they are older.   Your kids might fight you on it now, but they will thank you for it later.

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