Today's generation has more computerized and physically inactive forms of entertainment than ever before. We, as parents, must be the catalyst that motivates our children to exercise - plus it is not bad for us to exercise either. The earlier we introduce our children to a lifestyle of health and fitness, the less likely our children will grow to be part of the 60% (and growing - literally) of America that is obese. Researches have stated that childhood obesity is completely preventable, but almost entirely incurable.
It does not take a bench press and a stair machine to get fit. All you need is a playground and a little imagination. Here are some imaginative ways to exercise while watching your kids without spending a dime! This workout is the easiest and least time consuming way to combine family and exercise.
Now - get outside and set the example for your children. Let them see how important it is to get away from the television set and go outside to exercise/play. Here is a way to get the daily exercise you need for your health and the daily bonding your kids need.
Here's how you do it... The first two exercises are standard exercises that can be done in the living room right before you go to the playground with your kids.
With your hands shoulder width apart, place your palms on the ground, keeping your feet together and back straight. Push your body up until your arms are straight. Touch your chest to the ground each repetition. Try to do as many pushup as you can on your toes, then resort to knee pushups until exhaustion. Rest with 25-50 crunches (next exercise) and repeat pushups.
Lay on your back with your legs in the air and bent at the knees, forming a 90 degree angle with your knees. Bring your elbows to your knees.
3) Bench Dips
Place your hands on the edge of your seat, legs extended in front of you while sitting. Lower yourself as close to the floor as possible. Now, straighten your arms and lift yourself back to your seat and repeat.
4) Monkey-Bar Pull-ups
With hands at shoulder width, grab the bar and pull yourself up so your chin is lifted above the bar. Hold yourself above the bar for a second and let yourself down slowly.
5) Squat / Shoulder Press
Bend at the knees, with your back straight. Pick up your child and lift him over your head. Grab your child and lift him/her to the monkey bars or another elevated position.
6) Swing Set Squats
While pushing your child in the swing, squat in between each push of your child. With your feet at shoulder width apart and back straight, lower and raise yourself by bending the legs, forming a 90 degree angle with your knees.
7) Hanging Knee-ups
Hang on a pullup bar, as if you were performing a pullup. Pull your knees as high as you can, trying to roll your knees into your chest.
Push your child in a stroller or let him/her ride in a bike with you as you walk or run. Sign up to run / walk a race - maybe a 5k or a 10k. Go to Active.com to find an activity near where you live.
Realize this: You are doing your kids a dual service by creating a time and place for fitness. Of course, you know the better shape you are in will lead to a healthier and longer life. You will be able to enjoy your children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren IF you start taking better care of yourself and start exercising - NOW. Aside from being around to see your grandchildren grow, you will be passing down a legacy of fitness and nutrition to your children, who are being exposed to more physically inactive forms of entertainment than any time in history.
Good luck with getting creative with your programs. Of course, consult a doctor before starting any program, especially with your kids. Children can exercise with running, swimming, calisthenics, and lift very light weights at any age. The rule is not to lift heavy weights until well into your teenage years (16-19).
Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Military.com Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at Military.com. To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.