Having children has been the excuse of many parents for weight gain in later years. In fact it has been found that women and men statistically start gaining weight at 38 and 44 respectively, this of course coincides perfectly with the time that many parents start having multiple children.
Parents are also facing increased pressure to have fit kids, with this generation of kids being the first in history that is NOT expected to outlive their parents. Yep, you heard that right . . . if you have children today there is a chance that they will not outlive you . . . due to . . . DRUM ROLL . . . obesity. Below is a quote from a USDA Congressional Testimony in 2004:
In the past 20 years, the percentage of children who are overweight has doubled and the percentage of adolescents who are overweight has more than tripled. If we do not stem this tide, many children in this generation of children will not outlive their parents. USDA
Its true kids are fatter, parents are fatter, and children may not even outlive their parents! Fitness and health are FAMILY MATTERS it is not enough to assume that kids will make healthy choices on their own, and it is no longer acceptable for one member of the family to start a diet and exercise routine alone . . .FITNESS and HEALTH MUST BE FAMILY MATTERS.
Mastering the Family Walk
Walking a an activity that the entire family can do together.
- An easy paced walk of 45 minutes can burn 202 calories.
- Adults and children can both enjoy a walk.
- It can help kids enjoy the outdoors.
Unfortunately as parents we get busy, we come home from work exhausted and tired and the last thing most of us WANT to do is head back outside with our kids who are crying or tired. In Texas it is usually over 95 degrees in the evenings during the summer and I generally have little motivation to get outside for a walk.
However, walking as a family provides a number of benefits that are hard to ignore. Zen Family Habits lists the following 5 benefits that walking as a family provides:
- Great exercise
- Nature is the best medicine
- Reconnect with spouse and kids
- Replace bad habits
- Engage your community/nature
With the obvious benefits it is clear that getting out with the family is a great way to exercise and spend a little time with the spouse and kids.
5 TIPS FOR MASTERING THE FAMILY WALK
- Be patient: realize that many children can be stuck in old habits. If you do not have a habit of walking as a family then expect for the kids to throw a fit in the beginning. Don’t give in to their resistance just continue with a “family walk routine” . . . soon enough your kids will begin to understand that this is the new norm and they will begin to look forward to your family walks.
- Provide a healthy snack: setting aside a special treat for walk times is a great way to get the kids out the door. Now you should make it a fun and healthy snack. For our kids we give them fruit snacks or fruit leather. This works to create a positive experience for them as we walk and it also allows them to have something to occupy their hands as we walk.
- Have a destination: set your walks aside as times that coincide with trips to places the grocery store, a friends house, church, the movie store, etc . . . this way your kids have a destination in mind and a goal set aside for the walk. We live about a mile a Neighborhood Walmart so we usually set this as our destination and we walk there to buy milk or fruit.
- Make it easy on yourself: having the right gear can make all the difference. This means using a stroller that fits your family needs, is easy to push, or having the right bikes for your kids. Taz uses a balance bike which, of course, we refer to as his BIG BOY bike. This generally gets him excited to get outside and show off how big he is. We also give Taz the garage door opener and tell him it is his “job” to open and close the garage door. This gives him a purpose and a job on the walk.
- Make your kids a part of the process: If your kids are ANYTHING like mine than they have a mind of their own and love to think for them selves (a good thing later in life I’m sure). To help with this “gift” we try to include Taz in as much of the decision making process involved in going on walks as we can. We stop at a park on the way home, we let him bring a special toy, we bought him a special water bottle that he can spray on himself to cool himself off with when it is warm. Each of these things helps to allow him to feel like a part of the family decision making process and helps the walk go smoothly.
Starting any sort of new routine is hard. Getting kids out of the house and in the stroller or on the bikes can be especially hard if it is new for them. Don’t fret, don’t quit, just make the process fun and enjoyable for them and let them be a part of the fun. Bring music, bring snacks, bring toys, make being outside with the family an enjoyable process.