Playing With Your Kids Is Even Better for You Than You Think

soccerConfession time. It's about the time your kid reaches elementary school when you really have to re-think your own fitness level. Not you? You were one of those gym bunny types who still finds two hours for the rowing machine, the treadmill, the elliptical? I'm going to go out on a limb and bet that the obesity crisis in America points to you being in the minority.

But when kids come along, most of us want better for our kids than we have for ourselves. And that means a whole lotta "Get out there and exercise, young lady! You're gonna learn to love to move!" A word to the wise? This whole thing works a lot better when you practice what you preach.


If you want your kids to enjoy exercise, it's pretty easy. Get out there and ... play with them. Kick a ball around. Jump on a bike. Run circles around the yard (with or without squirt guns in hand). When your kids are in elementary school, they're finally able to really DO the fun stuff. Take advantage of it and make it a family activity.

It's hard. I hear y'all. I work all day indoors on a computer. I slump. Ooh, I slump. And this body doesn't move the way it did when I was 15, taking karate classes, weighing 30 pounds less, the whole nine. So I'll be brutally honest. You will suffer the indignity of wearing one of those dorky biking helmets so your kids see that Mommy wears one too. You will be reminded that running around on pavement after years of inactivity leads to shin splints. You will find you're much klutzier than you ever remembered.

No pain, no gain, that's what they always, say, right? But oh what gain. I want to set up a tape recorder in my backyard one day to capture the exact pitch of giggles that erupts from my daughter's mouth when she "tackles" my husband during a game of backyard soccer between the three of us. The flies might be buzzing around my head. I might be hot and sticky. But I'll take it all for that sound.

And for how I FEEL. The pain in my shins, the pain in my thighs is all good for me, knowing that my daughter sees that as something good. She sees me moving. She wants to do it too. Again and again. She wants to wear a helmet when she rides her bike. She wants to get out there and kick a ball, run some laps, dance wildly in the sunshine.

So there you are. Family bonding. Renewed health. And the knowledge that they're starting off with a love of exercise that you have forgotten in the years of just getting through the day of work, only to come home to get food on the table, then get the baby bathed and off to bed and then watch a little TV, then into bed yourself before starting the whole routine over again. Kind of makes you re-evaluate YOUR whole life, doesn't it?

Do you do family sports? Have your kids changed the way you look at exercise?


Image by Jeanne Sager

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