We all know the importance of living a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise and nutritious foods to reduce heart disease. As moms, we have every intention of raising our children in a healthy, nurturing environment. However, a busy schedule can be overwhelming on its own, without adding the pressure of having to squeeze in exercise. Nevertheless, it is imperative that we figure out how to incorporate a healthy, physically active lifestyle into our daily schedules while taking into consideration the delicate self-esteem issues of our youngsters. So the dilemma remains… How to incorporate exercise into a busy family schedule? Here are three suggestions to help you do just that.
1. Lead by example. Children will eventually emulate their parent’s behavior. As a single mom raising two boys, I regularly dragged my kids to the gym with me. Most gyms have childcare and some even have activities for the young ones. Whenever I had to teach at private studios, the boys came with me and learned to develop a love for exercising. Now that they’re young men, ages 17 and 20, both tall, long and thin, they exercise on a regular basis. Exercising has become a part of their daily routines, just like brushing their teeth and showering. Since they were younger they saw how excited I was about fitness and how exercising always put me in a good mood. I wish I could tell you that was my brilliant plan all along, but the truth is, I discovered it quite by accident. But now you can make it part of your brilliant plan!
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2. Don’t associate exercise with weight issues. As a matter fact, don’t even discuss exercise with your children. Instead, find out what activities they like to do and sign them up. Whether it’s dancing, sports or martial arts, get them involved. If they try something and don’t like it, let them try something else. My eldest son started with soccer, then Little League, swimming and basketball. Finally, in high school he discovered cross country running and fell in love. So let them try anything and everything as long as they are active. Get excited about their activities and make them enjoyable.
3. Get everyone involved. Come up with family activities that require physical activity. Instead of a night at the movies, take the family bowling or roller skating. Trampoline parks are popping up everywhere. Be silly and show your kids that being out of breath and getting your hair mussed up is fun. The family couch should be reserved for guests or collapsing into after a fun day on an adventure hike!
With heart disease affecting more lives than ever and childhood obesity on the rise, we can no longer turn a blind eye to exercise and keeping our children healthy and fit. Aside from regular check-ups, we have to make a considerable effort to become more active. And just like so many aspects of life, fitness starts in the home. It’s not about looking good or losing weight, but being healthy and disease-free at all ages.
To reduce the risk of heart-health diseases, the American Heart Association recommends the following physical activity guidelines:
At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes.
At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of the two.
Moderate to high intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 or more days per week for additional health benefits.
Let’s Go Red for our children and and make physical activity part of your and your family’s lifestyle. Celebrate American Heart Month in February and make this the time to start integrating exercise into your child’s life! Join GoRedForWomen.org or GoRedCorazon.org and learn more tips for healthy living to reduce heart disease risks.
María Simón is a fitness trainer and Go Red Por Tu Corazón volunteer spokesperson. You may follow her at @MariaSimontv, or visit her Facebook page or www.bodybymaria.com.