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To a child, LOVE is spelt T-I-M-E. When you have children, time for yourself, including time for exercise, is dramatically reduced. I’m not one to promote multi tasking but combining exercise and play with your children is very effective. Not only do you spend time with your children, you also send a significant message.
As a parent, you are the most important and influential role model in your children’s life. Taking your children with you while you exercise teaches them that exercise is important. If they see you doing it, they are more likely to do it - now and into the future.
One of my favourite ways to exercise is to run. Now that I’ve taught my two eldest children to ride a bike, I love having them come with me. It keeps me company and gives me someone to talk to. Unlike running with a mate, my boys are always available and ready to go whenever I am.
Exercising with your children gives you an additional reason to go when you don’t feel like it. This is important. You need to know what motivates you to exercise and you need more than one motivation. Sometimes that one motivation won’t be a big enough carrot to inspire you to take action. If you have more than one motivation to exercise, like spending time with your kids and being a good role model, you can get yourself to take action when you don’t initially feel motivated to do so.
Running and riding isn’t for everyone. It’s also often only performed once throughout the day. A healthy lifestyle is one that involves small bouts of physical activity spread all throughout the day. Turn time with your children into time for exercise by playing some of these games on a regular basis. When I’ve played some of these, I’ve felt like I’d done more than I would if I’d done a full-blown workout.
Games to Play With Your Kids That Will Keep You Fit Too
The traditional school yard game. Tip is simple, super fun, and anyone of any age can play it. Play in a small space to increase the intensity and try not to get tipped.
- Keepy off soccer
You can play keepy off anything but soccer is better because the ball is on the ground. You can’t use your height to advantage. Trying to move a ball around with your feet also encourages you to be light and nimble on your feet, which increases your heart rate as the intensity goes up.
- Piggy back swimming
If you’re not a good swimmer, this one is probably not a good idea. However, if you are a strong and confident swimmer, let your child hang onto your back while you breaststroke. Note I refer to child and not children. You’ll need to be a super strong swimmer to let more than one child hang off your back. I also suggest you only do this if your children can swim good, just in case you get into trouble.
The ol’ tickle wrestle is one of the most famous games to play with your children. I remember wrestling with my dad as a youngster and loved it. My children are always climbing on my back, which drives me insane sometimes, but they know it usually turns into a game of wrestling. A cool game to play is sock wrestling. Everyone starts with a pair of socks on and the aim is to get the other person’s socks off. Get their other parent involved for a pretty intense workout.
- Hide and seek
This sounds pretty tame. But turn it into hide, seek and scare and it becomes pretty intense. Go hide somewhere and get your children to find you. When they get close, scare them with a huge roar. Run away from them until they can’t see you and hide in another part of the house or yard. The constant running from hiding place to hiding place will result in a surprising amount of incidental running.
Make sure your children get an opportunity to experience both sides of these games - to win the ball off you, to get your socks off, and even to scare you.
What games do you play with your children that feel like a workout?
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