Making Fitness “Family Friendly” 

Where I live (in the Midwestern United States), it has been unseasonably warm, and snow-free, these last few weeks. This means my daughter and I are starting to resume outdoor workouts together, and solo. Running is one of my fave types of exercise, whereas she often prefers bike rides or jumping on the trampoline with her friends. One activity we often both enjoy is taking our pup for long walks. This gives us time to catch up away from the distraction of our phones and the perpetual list of household chores. 

Finding ways to be active as a family can really help you stay consistent in terms of making progress on your wellness goals. Even if you currently live alone, brainstorm types of physical recreation that grandchildren, nieces or nephews, and/or “chosen family” in your neighborhood or apartment complex might enjoy doing with you. 

For those with kids of multiple ages, nutrition therapist and Somatic Experience (SE)™ Practitioner Heidi Schauster acknowledges that “Finding activities to complement your children’s various movement personalities can be difficult, especially when needs and preferences are different.” Yet she affirms that figuring out how to regularly enjoy movement time as a family encourages a healthy approach to fitness and, hopefully, a positive perception of their own bodies during childhood and adolescence.  

Making Fitness “Family Friendly”, a family hikes together in a park

“Moving together as a family sets the foundation for appreciating some of the benefits of an active body, as well as helping kids develop skills around balance, teamwork, pacing one’s energy, healthy vs. unhealthy competition, and the list goes on,” says Schauster. “I have heard so many stories from adults who were shamed as children for their natural sedentary or less-coordinated way of moving about in the world. This shame often goes deep and leads to a complicated relationship with the body and physical activity. While many kids and teens learn from adults and the internet that the reason to exercise is to ‘look better’ or to lose weight, there are so many other reasons to encourage physical activity.” 

It’s equally important to model proper self-care and rest. Here’s a few simple examples: 

  • Avoid pushing them to participate in sports that they dislike.  
  • Model how to listen to your body. For example, share that you make it a priority to stretch in the mornings; before/after exercise; after sitting for long periods; or whenever you feel sore. 
  • Never ignore injuries. 

Got additional suggestions to tack onto this list? I would very much like to hear how your family collaborates on keeping healthy living habits a priority. 

And may you all draw strength from this mantra today: “Wide open minds — and hearts — can be a powerful force in staying well.” 


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