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Working Out With Your Kids, Part I

July 24, 2010

I sympathize with Cami on the whole score of integrating your kids into your workout.  Or tolerating them, as it were.

I’ve been alone on the parenting gig for the last few weeks, as The Husband is in Asia for work, and with a gap in summer programming, and the neighbor kid wolf pack gone on vacations, my daughter and I are having quite a bit of face time.

When I started working out two years ago, it was a stretch for me to realize that I needed this time alone, that is was okay to be selfish and get my exercise sessions scheduled, faithfully, that it was a good thing to put my health above most other concerns.  I needed to build up a habit, get into a comfortable mindset, a place where my fitness clothes were washed and ready, my iPod was charged and stocked with great stuff, my gym bag was packed with magazines and books and ice cold water, and my day was planned out to the extent that I could make this effort “excuse-proof,” without too much disruption from the whims of others.  This all sounds elementary, but none of it was part of my life.  I worked for many weeks until the whole notion of “going to the gym” was routine, comfortable and integrated.

So to have another person invade that carefully built system is difficult for me. Even going to the Y with another adult person is hard.  I am not one for classes or extroversion – I want to be in my little fitness bubble, thinking my extra-deep thinky thoughts and pushing myself against my own best time, and not diverted into small talk or pleasing other people or moving away from the intensity level I want.

I’ve brought my daughter to the Y, to swim or have lessons or take a family yoga class (I hate yoga, but want to encourage happy memories of fitness in my girl).  I’ve even taken her into the indoor track to run, only to discover that she loves sprinting and enjoys running in circles – who knew?

But a 7-year-old is mercurial and impulsive and often doesn’t want to leave her game of dodgeball or dollies when Mom decides it’s time to haul off to the gym.  This kind of resistance echoes my old resistance all too well:

Yes, but it’s so beautiful out – why not just work in the yard and call that a workout?

This is such a great book and when do I ever just lie on the couch and read?

We’re such a hurried, busy society!  Why not stop and smell the flowers?

And on and on.  I don’t know how to integrate my kid into my workout yet.  I know she needs exercise just like I do, but figuring out a way that doesn’t derail me is hard.  My girl isn’t sporty, either, so organized sports haven’t really worked in the past as a way to get her active.  I’d love some advice on how fitness pros make this work!

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 24, 2010 6:55 pm

    Carrie-
    My oldest sounds a little like your 7 year-old. He resists team sports for the most part and would much prefer to read, play with legos, or play video games then go outside and be active. This is a true parenting dilemma for someone like me who knows almost nothing besides being active! Now that he is old enough to decide if he likes a sport or not, we have decided not to force him into activities. (However, when he was younger, we believe he just didn’t want to try anything new and once he participated, he enjoyed it.)

    Basically, we ended up telling Chase that he had to choose one activity per season, and I didn’t even say it had to be a sport. I think he has been around me playing volleyball for so long, that he ended up choosing volleyball. Which adds another challenge since there are not a lot of boys volleyball programs in the metro. Result: he’s at camp for 3 weeks with all girls 😉 Maybe he’ll change his mind and return to basketball…

    For a lot of kids, outside play, is all the exercise they need for many years. That is if they use the playground equipment, play kickball, etc. vs. standing around. Chase doesn’t really have any interest in that either. He is definitely an introvert and I’ve always said that the kid is almost 12 going on 17. So, I’ve started asking him to walk on the treadmill and even had him doing some light core exercises at the gym with me. I think he knows how important it is to be healthy, he just doesn’t like new things.

    Every kid is different. My middle child is always on the move, so I don’t do a thing for her. And the youngest is just getting started in activities, so we’ll see!

    The fact that you are taking care of yourself will eventually rub off on her too. In the meantime, going swimming at the pool or beach, going on bike rides, playing in the yard are all good. You could maybe consider other individual sports like Karate, Swimming, Track (eventually) to offer her if she still doesn’t seem to be interested in the team sports.

    • carrie-lynn permalink
      July 25, 2010 11:11 pm

      Swen, it’s good to know that I’m not alone in this! My daughter loves to play on her own, and prefers books and make-believe and what not more than running around. I was the same way – still am! – and so is her father. So I guess at this point, I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and hope some it rubs off.

      Though, when I think about it, I did sports in school because my friends did them, not because my parents encouraged it. Perhaps Matilda will have some sporty friends who bug her to join their teams?

  2. July 24, 2010 11:46 pm

    How often is too much for kids?

    • July 25, 2010 9:07 pm

      Thanks for your comment TJ. I actually responded to it in a separate comment box, sorry. Missed the “reply” button the first time around.

      Please feel free to let me know if you have any more questions or comments.

      Thanks again!
      Swen

  3. July 25, 2010 3:54 pm

    Thank you admin
    The health is always in the forefront of children’s health. all to our kids

  4. July 25, 2010 9:04 pm

    TJ- The current recommendation is for all children and adolescents to participate in some for of physical activity for 60 minutes per day. You could check out http://www.healthychildren.org for some great articles on the topic. Here is the article I found most helpful: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/fitness/pages/Physical-Activity-Make-the-Right-Choice-for-Your-Child.aspx
    Sorry for the long link! Couldn’t figure out how to make the word the link like I can do in a post…

    Anyway, I still haven’t completely answered your question. How often is too much… really good question. I would have to say that this depends on the child’s age and the activities that they are participating in.

    Personally, I started in gymnastics when I was 5. I went 3x/week and wanted to go more. I did flips in my backyard, and basically anywhere else. As I got older, I started playing other sports as well- softball and tennis in the summer, volleyball, gymnastics, track during the school year. I just had a lot of energy! My point is that if your child loves to participate in sports/activities and cross-trains with the seasons, then they can compete as much as they can and you are able to transport them to all of these things, and as long as they stay healthy.

    However, I do caution parents who are trying to focus their children on ONE sport. As a physical therapist, I have seen and read about the rise of overuse injuries in teens. Repetitive tasks year-round will eventually wear on those muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints.

    If the child is only interested in the one sport, make sure they have a break for while. They could do some interim cross training in the gym, ie. core strength, cardio, even plyos and agility. Any activity that interests them outside of their one prime sport.

    Hope that helps a little!
    Thanks again for your comment!
    Swen

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