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Fitness Buzz: A Family Affair! Part 1

Posted Wednesday, June 9th, 2010 at 5:51 am by David T in Family Bees. More in 10031

This article is from David Tacheny, founder of Performance Athletics, which is located on the Upper West Side.

A Family Affair!

The “family,” whatever that means to you, is the nucleus of the human social experience. It can also be the nucleus of healthful living. From ensuring our children are properly and appropriately nourished from their earliest days, to caring for aging or elderly parents, making health and fitness a part of family life is one of the most important steps you can take to living a healthy life yourself.  This week, as part of a two-part series, I’ll talk about exercise and touch on three distinct phases of life.

Having little kids and a full-time job has been known to result in more than one spare tire. All of a sudden we have no time (or babysitting money) for sessions at the gym, for long solo bike rides, or softball league.  With a nearly two year old and one on the way something had to give in our house recently. It turned out to be my involvement with my cycling team. I couldn’t justify paying for babysitting when I wasn’t getting paid to ride, and it wasn’t fair to ask my wife to always be at home when I was out exercising and having fun.  So, we recently purchased a child carrier back pack, with all the bells and whistles, and we’re all hitting the hiking trails together this summer.
My suggestion is to think of ways you can be active with your young children in tow or as a family.  A jogging stroller might be the answer for your family, or a child seat on your bike, but one way or another, it’s important the family make exercise a regular way of interacting. Doing so prevents adults from resenting the loss of separate exercise time and it teaches children (even babies) the joy and benefits of being active, helping to form life long healthy behavior patterns.
Kids grow, however, and get too big to carry. They may not like the activities in which you’re  interested. Allowing kids to choose activities that interest them is great for their developing bodies and autonomy, but don’t become disengaged yourself. If your young daughter wants to play soccer “just like mommy,” then do all you can to nurture and teach (maybe even coach) her out of your love for the game. But, if your teen comes home and abruptly tells you he’s joined the fencing team, don’t freak out just because you don’t know the difference between a foil and a saber. Do a little research, ask questions. Ask if he’ll teach you what he’s learned!  You both get exercise and that interaction with your teen on his level is priceless.
At some point, parent/child roles change. It may fall to you to keep your elderly family member active. Do what you can to allow them to participate in activities they’ve long enjoyed. Sports are great therapy for lots of physical and emotional maladies associated with aging and participating with an older family member could even lead to opportunities for you to learn a new sport or improve your skills as well. Many elderly people become reluctant to get active alone out of fear of falling or hurting themselves. A little co-participation is often all the motivation they need to do something that’s good for their health and yours!
So get up and get out with your family.  At all stages, in all situations it will be good for all of you!

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