We’re fortunate to have great weather here in Southern California. Having this great weather usually drives us outside to workout and just have fun. As a mom, I think it’s super important to sneak in some family fitness everyday. That’s why we partnered with Kaiser Permanente Orange County to share these family fitness tips.
I spoke to Dr. Vincent Valenzuela of Kaiser Permanente Orange County and discussed family fitness because it’s something that I practice in my every day life. As a mom, I think it’s important that I set a good example for the kids in regards to nutrition, exercise and overall well-being. The kids know that I go to the gym while they’re at school, they understand to be cognizant of calories and fat when choosing their meals, and they also know to balance their “off time” with “active time.”
In my own life, I have done a variety of exercise regimens including Bikram yoga, running, weights, and most recently, a variety of group classes. The kids and I also like to go running in the morning before school (never more than a mile and a half), we do home workouts using the FitStar app, and on occasion they’ll join me for yoga or strength training session as well. This may all sound like a lot, but because we have made fitness a part of everyday life, the kids have come to expect it.
Family Fitness Tips
So first things first, before talking to Dr. Valenzuela I thought the kids and I needed at least three hours of physical activity. Turns out – kids only need about an hour of activity, and that includes recess time at school. I may have been running them too hard, but because they don’t push back, I kept our schedule the way it was. Since learning that they only need about an hour of active mobility, I have changed our exercise regimen because I don’t want to interfere with the physical development of the kids.
Tip: Make fitness fun
A routine is fine, but fitness should be fun. A good tip to try at the park is to have the kids come up with an obstacle course. Maybe you start at the bottom of the playground stairs, you run up, go across the monkey bars, up the stairs, down the slide and up the rock climbing wall. Time each other and turn it into a friendly competition.
Tip: Go on walks together
The easiest way to get and stay fit is to go on walks. Try a walking path near your home for a safe route. Soon enough you’ll become regulars and find other families that like to stay fit together too! One of the places we like to visit is the Kaiser Thrive Path at the Great Park in Irvine because the path is long enough that the kids get a great workout but aren’t completely exhausted, and the scenery is gorgeous.
Tip: Stay fit together
The “together” part is the most important part. Parents need to model the behavior because it may be hard for kids to stay active if you’re not doing it together.
Tip: Don’t push the kids too much
Dr. Valenzuela warns parents to be careful in overworking kids because it may interfere with the development of the kids and the connected tissue and ligaments. If you do weight training, either go with a one pound weight or switch the weight out for a can of soup. It could hurt them if they go to extreme and lift things that are too heavy for them on a frequent basis.
You can also give resistance bands a try. Be careful in using them though, because it’s pulling against what they’re pulling and if they pull too much then it could hurt them.
Tip: Give yoga a try
Yoga is really good because it’s a different type of muscle training. It’s also a good way to strengthen the muscle and become more flexible. Keep in mind that a lot of kids’ muscles are tight when they’re growing up and that’s when they get a lot of sports injuries.
Tip: Running is good, in moderation
Children around eight years old can do one to three miles every other day, as tolerated. Encourage your child to stop and walk if necessary. Move onto longer runs by slowly extending the distance of your run one day at a time.
Tip: Encourage your child to workout with you
Children can do plyometrics, yoga, some running, and light weight training for no more than a full hour. Another good alternative would be to cut their reps in half by whatever you’re doing. So for example, if you’re doing three reps, then your child can maybe do just one or two reps. Keep an eye on them and help them keep a good form so that they’re doing things appropriately.
An issue that I brought up during my call with Dr. Valenzuela was growing pains versus pain from overactivity. There are some days where my kids will come to me and complain that their legs hurt. These are some tips that he gave me to learn how to navigate these pains:
If the kids are super active, they will mostly get that pain in the night. If the pain is from the knee down, then it could be growing pains, but it really has more to do with the amount of activity if there’s no swelling or redness. If the pain is on the knees, then it’s the amount of activity. If it’s in his feet, then it’s poor arch support. An easy fix would be to give your child good inserts. You can combat their pain with Ibuprofen, Advil and massages. Dr. Valenzuela reminds parents that the muscles on a child are growing and immature. If they’re overused, then it could hurt them via wear and tear – especially if they do too much at the same time.
Family fitness is important and it’s up to us to set down some good values and practice getting and staying fit as a family. I encourage you to visit http://www.kp.org/orangecounty and click on the Thrive Together tab on the upper right hand corner. There you’ll find articles with information on staying active, eating healthy, living well and giving back.