BY REBECCA JOHNSTON
Some of my best memories include heading out with my dad on epic adventures. He would take me biking, skiing, x-country skiing, swimming, hiking and horseback riding. Now that I have my own children, I realize that my dad was doing all the cool stuff he loved while I was tagging along! I would bike alongside while he trained for his marathons and he taught me how to ski so he could hit the slopes more often. What a smart dad!
Including our kids when we workout or take part in sports helps them learn new skills and builds their self-confidence. These days there are so many things that encourage our children to sit in one place, making it even more important to encourage them to lead active lives.
I believe that I have my dad to thank for my love of exercise and nature and I want to pass this on to my kids. One of the best ways to do this is to involve them in our own physical activities. Here are a few suggestions on how to do this:
Hiking gives kids a good dose of fresh air, helps them appreciate nature, and gives them quality time with you. Plus you can start ’em young! Start out with the baby in a carrier and then move onto mini-hikes and let them choose the route. I had my kids hiking to Quarry Rock (an easy, 4 km round trip hike through the woods) when they were three years old. Just be prepared to wear your patience hat.
From about the age of 4, kids can tag along on your bike rides if you attach a trail-a-bike to your own bike. They think they’re “helping” with the pedaling and you get an extra workout from pulling more weight. From there the kids can move on to run-bikes and two-wheelers, and you can jog along beside them until they have the speed and stamina to ride along with you.
Get hold of a jogging stroller and take your baby/toddler along when you go for a run. I used a “Bob” stroller but there are other models on the market. These strollers have big inflated wheels and they are easy to manipulate on rougher terrain.
HOME WORKOUTS and/or YOGA
Set up a yoga mat beside yours and have them follow along with you. You can make it more fun by giving the moves silly names and letting your kids know how great they are doing! Yoga is a great home exercise and it’s beneficial for their strength and mobility. Sharing workouts and yoga with your children will add distractions and may mean that your sessions are less intense, but your kids will be learning that exercise can be both challenging and fun.
Always encourage your kids to join you in whatever activity you’re doing. Whether it’s rock climbing, kayaking, skiing or gardening, encourage them to try new things and enjoy the time exercising as a family! 🙂
Remember active parents raise active kids.
Refuel your family with Rebecca’s Tropical Cacao Overload Smoothie
Rebecca Johnston is a fitness professional, blogger, Barre Fitness instructor and founder of Be Naturally Fit, an online business and her personal brand. She lives in North Vancouver with her husband and two daughters.