Are Your Kids and Grandkids Getting Enough Exercise?
Kids spend a big part of the day sitting doing school. Even if your child participates in sports, they may not be spending enough time moving. But don’t worry, you don’t have to add another sport to your already busy schedule. There are simple strategies for squeezing in more fitness time.
Lift weights. You’ve probably heard that lifting weights is for kids in their late teens only, and if you’ve seen any videos of kids who have taken fitness to extremes, you probably believe that’s good advice. But just as weight training is vitally important for adult fitness, lifting light weights in a controlled manner is important for kids. Strong Kids, Healthy Kids presents evidence that slow weight training is particularly suited to children because the light weights and repetitions avoid injury. What’s even better for busy parents is that slow weight training gets results in less workout time than traditional exercise. Using forms to track kids’ progress is especially motivating for them.
Do pushups. While I’m tempted to add other superb exercises like squats and sit-ups to this list, pushups alone are a fantastic form of exercise. They strengthen the entire upper body and the core. One way my husband has motivated our kids to stay fit doing pushups is to pay them for doing a certain number of pushups a day for a month. Of course, you wouldn’t want to use this strategy for life (you could go broke quickly!), but offering a reward is a great way to jump start your kids’ interest in fitness. Once they’ve gotten good at pushups, have them move up to doing burpees.
Use a kids’ video. I’ve tried out a number of kids’ videos, and I really like Kick to Get Fit for Kids. It’s very instructional and what kid doesn’t like to kick? Some kids like to kick too much (like my son in the video who kept “accidentally” kicking his sister), so make sure you allow plenty of room. I like to have the kids workout with this during our mid-morning break if the weather isn’t cooperating.
Make it routine. One of my friends has her kids run a pre-planned circuit through the neighborhood each morning and keeps track of their time. I like to have the kids use the trampoline or play outdoor games during our mid-morning recess. The key is doing a little exercise on a regular basis.
Take up a family sport. Having one child play soccer while the family watches from the sidelines isn’t a family sport, despite the fact that team sports are rewarding in other ways. Playing a sport or enjoying an exercise activity together is not only wonderful for your child’s fitness, but builds family closeness. Our family loves tennis, bike riding, and hiking. There are so many options! If you aren’t sure what to do, make it a family project to try lots of activities until you find the one that works.
Play fitness games together. I mentioned in a post on getting your child’s screen time under control that we originally bought the kids a Wii thinking that it would keep the kids active. Unfortunately, the inactive games soon became more popular. But we’ve noticed that if Mom or Dad or aunts or grandparents will play with our kids, they love the active games again. Dance games can really be a lot of fun (kids love it when we make fools of ourselves) and what’s better is that you’ll get more exercise, too. You know you need it! We all do.
How do you get your kids to spend more time exercising?
One of my hobbies is trying new applications to make life easier, more productive, or just more fun. These ten applications have been added to by productivity arsenal in recent weeks.
ActiveInbox You may recall my love affair with Goodtodo. The Goodtodo website and accompanying iPhone app helped me get to inbox zero and stay there. There was only one thing I didn’t like about it and that is that it isn’t fully integrated with Gmail, my email client of choice. In other words, while I could forward emails into Goodtodo (and that’s the point), I often had to go back into Gmail to access emails with lots of links, as these aren’t clickable in Goodtodo. I had heard of ActiveInbox before, but was put off by the Getting Things Done moniker. I don’t use every aspect of the GTD approach. What I didn’t realize is that ActiveInbox does everything that Goodtodo does and more. While it’s not meant to be your primary task manager, that’s exactly how I’m using it and I love it. I have the paid version and feel it’s worth every penny.
2. Springpad Everyone knows Evernote and lots of people love it. I liked it, too, but had a particular frustration. I didn’t like that I couldn’t make a checklist that I could easily rearrange or easily make a note that was a task to complete. Springpad does that and more. The user interface is much more appealing to me as well.
3. SmartPad Even though I have my tasks neatly organized in ActiveInbox, I have days when I don’t know how I’m going to fit it all in. One app I love to use in that situation is SmartPad. This iPad app tells you how much you can get done given your schedule and time you have to work. If you dawdle, you can watch the tasks you hoped to accomplish fade from possibility. SmartPad will soon integrate with a SmartDay website which will make the app even more user friendly.
4. Final Version – Wunderlist The man pictured above is not an app, but Mark Forster, who comes up with a new productivity approach every few months. As long as you don’t think of the “Final Version” as the be-all-end-all, but rather as a fun way to gamify your task list, you might enjoy it. I like to use it when I am feeling unmotivated and then Wunderlist is the iPhone app I use. As you tap the stars to indicate that this is a task you prefer to do before the last starred task, the items are put in order at the top of the list for you to begin working on.
5. Clear This is another iPhone app that works for doing the Final Version or just as a great list app. The beauty of it is its simple, clean interface. To make an item a priority, move it up on the list and it’s in the red zone. To add an item between items, simply spread your fingers apart to make room for the new one. If you just want a simple means of organizing tasks in terms or priority, Clear is a great option.
6. Schedule Planner Pro Research shows that we accomplish more of the tasks we schedule. This iPhone app not only allows you to schedule your tasks, but compare what you actually did with what you planned. It’s not perfect, but I love the concept and will use the app when I am working on schedule discipline.
7. Task Current I think of the Task Current iPhone app as a Fun To Do list that I can use to inspire me or even as a reward for doing less-than-fun to do’s.
8. Fitocracy Fitocracy is a seriously addictive website/iPhone app for people like me who thrive on compliments. This diverse community will make you feel like a million bucks for completing your workout, whether you’re a seasoned exerciser or just getting started. There are groups for Christians, but I’ve found the whole community to be very supportive. I was doing squat thrusts at 11:00 p.m. just to finish a “quest” and earn the approval of my fellow fitocrats. What on earth?
9. Daily Feats In case you were wishing there was a pat-on-the-back app for things like housework and parenting, I have good news. Daily Feats gives you points, social approval, and even tangible rewards for doing tasks related to your goals. While company reps are often giving out what are called “props” and sharing links to their products, I’ve found it to be welcome as the products are appropriate to my goals.
10. 750 words Are you a writer who wishes there was a social gaming app to help you get writing done? There is! Earn points for logging 750 words into this writers’ website and compare yourself to others with writing muscle.
What new apps have you found for getting things done?
This week, our friend Gari sent out this great list that he lives by. Not only does Gari live it, but he inspires others to live likewise. He challenged his friends to do 3000 pushups this month (100 a day for 30 days). My husband in turn challenged our kids to participate, offering a financial incentive so good that I had to take the bait, too. Last night when I was finishing my last 20 pushups of 100 for the day very late at night, I was cursing him (sorry, Gari!), but I admire Gari’s attitude and commitment so much. Even if you’re more into faith than fitness, I think you’ll find that these habits translate very well.
1. They don’t think of their fitness as work, but rather a way of life.
It’s kind of like taking a shower; you don’t need one, but you just don’t feel right the rest of the day.
2. They don’t skip workouts.
They take training days as serious as a Dr’s appointment. Appointments and meetings get scheduled around their workout time, not the other way around.
3. They take their rest as seriously as their workouts.
They know that in order to perform at their best and to get the most out of their bodies, they have to give it a rest. Rest days and sleep are as essential as the workouts themselves.
4 They eat to fuel their goals.
Everything they eat serves a purpose. Protein for muscles, carbs for energy, and produce for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Treats are done, but never over-done.
5 They tune everything out when they workout.
Focus. They know that anything you give your undivided attention to works out better. Being in tune with your body allows them to make tweaks, and know which tweaks to make.
6 They push through frustration.
If you think it’s easy for the super fit to get fit,and stay fit, you’re wrong. They’re highly competitive and always striving to hit new goals. They struggle like everyone else with busy lives. Stress, plateaus, fatigue, and frustration. But there isn’t a thought of giving up, it’s just a matter of finding their answer.
7 They prepare their food in advance.
They know what they’ll be eating the whole day. If they don’t bring their food, they know what they can order off menus and what they can find at a grocery store. Drive-thrus don’t exist in their world.
8 They use their flaws as motivators, not a reason to give up.
They see their flaws (even if you don’t) and despise them like everyone else. But rather then letting their flaws bring them down,,they use them to motivate themselves.
9 They envision the win-goal-finish line every day.
The goal is crystal clear in their mind. The thought of the sculpted body or winning the race always keeps them motivated. Regardless of life’s pressures, they race towards the winner’s tape.
10 Persistence, persistence, persistence.
Yes… they are persistent!
11 There are no excuses.
They learn early that excuses are time-suckers and don’t get you anywhere near your goals. Better to get it done than whine about why you didn’t.
12 There is no giving up.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us – Hebrews 12:1
Which of these habits do you struggle with the most?
I have been exercising regularly for over 20 years now. The habit didn’t come easily to me, but I am very thankful for it. I don’t believe I could homeschool six children without the energy, stress relief, and better health I gain as a result of working out. If you would like to develop the exercise habit (and I hope you do!), here are my best tips for making it happen.
Associate with people who exercise. I list this first because I believe this is arguably the main reason this naturally sedentary person has become a faithful exerciser. I married a workout fanatic. Deep down I hoped that his habit would rub off on me and it did. I just didn’t realize that he would often rub me the wrong way in the process! If you didn’t marry an exerciser, you can still gain the power of peer pressure. While encouraging a friend who doesn’t exercise to join you for a walk or workout is a great idea, it’s an even better one to buddy up with someone who already gets moving week in and week out. I currently benefit from knowing that friends who exercise are going to ask me if I’ve been doing my latest workout.
Arrange to work out at the best time of day. I have exercised faithfully at every time of day during various seasons of my life. Currently, I exercise first thing in the morning. I find that moving early wakes me up, removes the need for more than one shower, and prevents interference. But I don’t believe the first thing in the morning is the ONLY time that works. I’ve also split my workouts into two daily sessions and that worked, too.
Anticipate your inner slug. I know exactly what the lazy me is going to do and say when I’m tired, cold, and cranky. So I make it easy for her. I make sure my workout space is clear (I currently work out at home) before I go to bed. I have my tennis shoes and socks waiting for me right outside my bathroom. I used to have my exercise attire folded and ready to go, too. Now because I can be really, really stubborn, I have made it even easier to get moving. I wear my exercise clothes as pajamas! If the thought of sleeping in a sports bra gives you nightmares, you could always leave your bra with your shoes. If I still don’t want to work out when I get up, I have to take off my workout clothes which is a little like driving to the gym and then going home; it’s silly. Sometimes the lazy me is really insistent. In those cases, I imagine how I will feel later in the day after skipping my workout. If the whiner still carries on about it, I give her permission to do as little of the workout as she wants as long as she starts.
Agree to make it fun. I honestly understand why so many of us struggle to make regular exercise a part of our lives. Our ancestors got all the activity they needed as part of their work. The activity was always purposeful. Women beat rugs, kneaded bread, and walked everywhere. Now we ask women to pedal bikes that don’t go anywhere, walk on treadmills like caged hamsters, and repeatedly lift weights that don’t need to be put away. If you can get your exercise doing meaningful work instead, by all means, do it! But most of us are going to have to find ways to give meaningless activity some purpose. Some things that have worked for me are working out with a friend (the time flies as we talk), working out with my kids (I love to teach anything!), participating in a challenge or competition (I did Body for Life for 12 weeks), playing a sport (tennis), and mixing it with entertainment (listening to audiobooks or reading that I only do while exercising). There are so many great options for exercising today and you don’t have to stick with just one! Keep trying activities until you find something you enjoy.
What tips and tricks have you found that motivate you to exercise?