While exercise can be drudgery if it’s performed irregularly and/or incorrectly, those who have made it a part of their daily routine, hardly have to think about it- if at all. In fact, discouragement usually settles in only if something interrupts regular activity so that it keeps them from exercising. The golden question then becomes, “How can someone start to make exercise part of their lifestyle?” The following list of suggestions can be taken in part or in whole – just make it work!
- Even little increases in activity can make a big difference: Going from “0 to 60” with a new exercise routine can be overwhelming, and almost always leads to burnout. Map out a plan with a vision of where you and your family eventually want to be, but start by taking small steps and make them a part of your regular routine; increasing activity moderately as you are able to.
- If you don’t have much time to specifically set aside for exercise each day, incorporate it into other activities. For example, you and the kids could perform a set of jumping jacks during commercial break of their favorite T.V. program, do heel raises while brushing your teeth before bedtime, take a walk after dinner while practicing spelling words or catching up on the day; or take a break to do isometric/chair exercises while sitting at the table to do homework.
- Find an activity that you enjoy doing: Your family doesn’t have to be running a 5K or 10K race together to be exercising. If that is your sort of thing, by all means, do it; however, if it’s not, there is no limit to the number of other activities that you can choose from (walking, swimming, hiking, biking, exercise videos, yard work, dancing ….).
- Make the commitment to exercise together: Having someone to exercise with and to keep you on-track with your physical goals can be highly motivating. If someone is counting on you, it’s harder to say no. Children are particularly prone to hypocrisy; you can’t tell kids to eat their vegetables if you won’t, and the same goes for exercise.
- Take time to learn about the body and how specific exercises can improve health: One of the primary reasons that people stop a particular activity is because they have never learned how it really can help to improve their health. Learn the primary motions of the body (knee flexion, hip extension…) and the muscles that make them happen. Become an educated participant!
Make exercise part of your lifestyle and Keep On Moving!
Matt Hansen, D.P.T. is a practicing Doctor of Physical Therapy and President of SOMA Health, LLC, creators of the Freedom2Move Home Exercise Program and DVD series. Freedom2Move is designed to allow for anyone’s participation and physical betterment, whether they are a competitive athlete, live with a chronic health condition or are unable to move at all without assistance. Viewers of the program are not only presented with a customizable work-out, but they also learn about the targeted muscles and how strengthening them can lead to improved health and function. Please visit www.freedom2move.org to learn more about the program and purchase videos; or to learn more about the support that
Freedom2Move offers corporations and non-profit organizations.
If you’d like to read more about getting active as a family, check out these other articles from Together Counts!