by Wanda Baker-Joseph, Esq.
As moms, we are always ‘running’ somewhere with our kids. We run to the grocery story, school events, medical appointments, and even dance practice. But, when was the last time you laced up your sneakers and ran a mile or two with your children? We are always telling our kids that they need to get some exercise. As parents, we need to exercise as well. Why not address both needs and exercise together?
I remember the first time I took an exercise class with my daughter—in fact, it was a taekwondo class. The Sensei made us all drop and do a series of exercises and because I—somebody’s mom—was able to engage in the exercise, the kids were absolutely shocked. Statements ran the gamut from “Wow, your mom is cool,” or “Wow, your mom is the bomb,” or even “I wish my mom would do that.” Most of the kids could not believe that someone my age was able to exercise with the same intensity and duration that they could. So, as a result, I decided to start regularly exercising with my kids and do you know what? They absolutely love it. They are so excited when we exercise together. It’s great because I don’t have to worry about getting a sitter and we have a lot of fun!
So, even though having fun with your kids is reason enough to exercise with them, consider five additional reasons you should exercise with your kids:
1. Exercise increases longevity. Research has revealed that exercise extends your life. In a 2012 study authored by a professor at Harvard Medical School , walking 1.5 miles a week was shown to add 1.8 years to your life. Furthermore, the study also revealed that the more you exercise, your longevity can increase by as much as 4.5 years. What better reason to exercise than to extend the life of you and your child?
2. Children become empowered. Empowerment is defined as the belief in your capacity to change your situation. Children are empowered by directly and positively impacting their parent’s livelihood. Imagine your child saying, “I helped my mom lose weight by running with her,” or “We ran together and I helped her get healthier.” How is that for confidence building?
3. Exercise increases intelligence. As parents, we are always trying to give our children an intellectual edge. Well, look no further. According to the Journal of Sports and Medicine and Physical Fitness, middle school students in the best physical shape got the highest test scores and the best grades, regardless of their gender. Further, those same children outscored their peers on standardized tests.
4. A source of mutual motivation. Exercising with each other is motivational for both parents and children. When I exercise with my children, it makes me push harder and work longer because I know that they are watching. Accordingly, if I tell them we are going to run or exercise for five minutes and I run for only three minutes, the first words out of their mouth will be “What’s wrong mom?”, “Is everything ok?” or “Are you Ok?” Ergo, I’d better run for the full five minutes. They hold me accountable! Likewise, I hold them accountable. If I can run for five minutes, they should be able to also. Hey, whatever works, right?
5. Parents are role models. All parents need to remember that they should exercise with their kids because they are role models. According to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, children whose mothers engaged in healthy behaviors such as exercising and eating healthy were more likely to be active and healthy eaters. Parents are the most significant role models for their children. The best thing you can do to keep your kids active is to show them how. In other words, talk is cheap.
I can’t of think five better reasons to get out there and exercise with your kids— it’s fun, it contributes to longevity, it’s empowering, it increases intelligence, it’s motivating and it allows you to be a role model for your kids. So, what are you waiting for? Go get your kids and get moving!
Wanda Baker-Joseph, Esq. is an attorney with more than twenty years experience in the public sector. She is also a nursing student and mother of three who is committed to ensuring that the community addresses their health and fitness needs. In her spare time, she loves to run.