Like Mother, Like Daughter: Working Out With Your Kids

Fitness // Sarah Link // 5 May 2014

Did you know that not all kids are ‘naturally active’? Even toddlers need encouragement for active playtime. We’ve read the scientific studies and broken it all down for you. Read on…

As a parent you’ll notice the way you or your partner reacts to certain situations, the faces you pull, little sayings you come up with, even swearing, is mirrored by your kids. There’s no denying the way YOU behave directly rubs off on THEM.

This is good and bad. But since we look on the bright side here at 12WBT, it does means that if you’re active and healthy, you can lead by example. It’s like teaching children to be better humans without even TRYING to change them – just change yourself and the rest will follow!

Mish also believes in the power of getting active to have healthy kids. In fact, she says: “No adult ever lovingly recalls their childhood memories of sitting at home watching TV, but memories of playing with their parents? Priceless.”

The Scientific Proof: Active Mums Means Active Kids

So here’s the evidence. A UK study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that physically active mums are more likely to have kids who are also active.

The study involved 554 four-year-olds and their mothers wearing a heart-rate monitor/accelerometer on their chests for up to seven days.

Greta and Jaden

12WBT running expert Greta and her son Jaden enjoy time at the beach

Healthy Habits: You Do It, Your Kids Will Do It!

One of the most interesting parts of the study shows that kids aren’t “just naturally active”. And their parents played a crucial role in their involvement in sports, exercise and healthy habits.

Kathryn Hesketh, who co-led the study, told the BBC: “The more activity a mother did, the more active her child. Although it is not possible to tell from this study whether active children were making their mothers run around after them, it is likely that activity in one of the pair influences activity in the other.”

The findings showed that for every minute of moderate-to-vigorous activity a mother did, her child was more likely to do 10% more of the same level of activity. Kathryn explains: “If a mother was one hour less sedentary per day, her child may have spent 10 minutes less sedentary per day. Such small minute-by-minute differences may therefore represent a non-trivial amount of activity over the course of a week, month and year.”

Make Family Time to Move

Get energised, get busy, get MOVING … And get your family to follow! Easier said than done?

Kathryn advises making small changes: “There are many competing priorities for new parents and making time to be active may not always be top of the list … Small increases in maternal activity levels may lead to benefits for mothers and children.”

Mish says solo time is a must for your mind and body, like getting your workouts done early in the morning before the household wakes up. BUT why not have some kid-friendly activities up your sleeve and make being active an habitual part of life for the whole family?!

How about a quick 20-minute stroll around the neighbourhood before or after dinner every night. Yes, take them all – the pram, the dog, the husband. Do it daily, make it a family habit instead of watching TV together.

Cartwheel fun

Chooki’s girls enjoy cartwheel fun on the lawn

Create Good Memories

Leave the car at home and walk the kids to and from school. Make Sunday morning a special time for hitting the beach to walk, swim, play in the surf. Or walk to the park, play tag or kick a ball before having a quick picnic or going home for sandwiches.

Create a regular Saturday afternoon session of backyard cricket, badminton, totem tennis, a paddle in the pool or hopscotch on the driveway.

You don’t even have to leave the house. How about Saturday night Wii workouts and dancing competitions in the lounge room? A race up the stairs whenever you arrive home …

Doesn’t matter how old the kids are. Start creating the memories – and active behaviour – NOW.

If you’re a new mum, check out this post! Our fitness guru Fit Tim created a program of safe, functional exercises you can do with your baby! Quality time with bub and a workout – it’s a win-win!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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