We can work it out
Why your family should exercise together
Sweat was dripping off my shirt and I could not escape that feeling of needing to throw up, almost wishing I could, but not actually vomiting. It doesn’t sound all that inviting, but I was really interested in coming back the next day to try it all again.
Because my nurses had invited me.
Because they were getting up for their 6 a.m. boot camp every morning.
Because they were loving every minute of it and sticking with something to better their health (despite the fact that the schedule was crazy and the workouts demanding).
I would think that most people do not want to get up and work out at 6 a.m. (I think there was even a 5 a.m.class but…I’m not that crazy!). Those that do love it, could probably get up and work out on their own by running or lifting weights by themselves.
Why are programs like boot camps and Crossfit so successful?
I believe it is because of one main reason: they are SOCIAL CLUBS.
(Wait Crossfitters, don’t get mad yet.)
I certainly don’t mean that the people going to these workouts are sitting around drinking coffee and chatting. I’ve done a few of each type of workouts and I can guarantee they are working hard.
What is a social club?
- People gathering around a common interest.
- People attending to better themselves or increase their knowledge.
- People encouraging one another.
People who gather together and workout get many benefits besides simply getting their workout in. They are motivated to show up because they provide accountability. “Where were you this morning?” They are encouraged to continue working even when things are hard. “Come on, just one more, you can do it.”
Unfortunately, there are not as many opportunities for our teens to have this type of experience, which is why I am advocating that we bring this mindset into our homes.
Here are some comments I frequently hear during my teenager visits:
“I try to get them outside but they just don’t want to.”
“All they want to do is sit around and watch TV.”
Yep, that’s right, that may be all they want to do. That is probably all they will do unless you make exercise social for them.
One of the major contributors to children’s physical activity is whether their friends are active. Friendships are often centered around shared goals or activities. If those shared interests are active, it is more likely that your child will be active. If those shared interest are passive, getting your child to be active may be more difficult. A study from 2012 in Pediatrics showed that even children as young as 5-12 years would increase their physical activity by 10 percent to match their friends.
But, it’s not just friends that influence your child’s activity level. Parents' activity level, but more importantly their encouragement, also have big effects on their child’s activity levels.
Here are some ways you could possibly make this work for you teenager:
- Find a common activity the whole family enjoys- Maybe it’s just getting out and kicking a soccer ball around or playing catch. Maybe it’s something more intense, it doesn’t matter just do something together.
- Set a family goal- Make it a goal to do something physical as a family 6 days a week. If you accomplish that goal, have a family cheat day where you get to watch a movie and have a special treat (or whatever reward would motivate your kids).
- Run a 5K as a family- Set a goal to run a 5K sometime in the next 3 months. Find the race, sign up and start trying. There are plenty of Apps and online programs you can use to help work your way up to the distance. There is no goal for time or speed, just that everyone finishes.
I’ve made a decision that I’m no longer able to accept this:
“They just won’t get out and exercise.”
“Are you getting up to do it too?”
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joined Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.