By Mike Duffy Person Trainer
Childhood obesity, underage drinking, smoking and failure to exercise are all concerns for parents these days. If you want your kids to adopt a healthier, wiser lifestyle, you are going to have to show them the light. Children often learn best by example. Lead and they will likely follow.
How can you set the example and get them off on the right foot if your habits aren’t that great? Consider taking these steps to put yourself and your family on the road to better health and fitness:
- Work closely with a personal trainer – Exercise is one of the best ways to get yourself and your family in shape. Coming up with a program that will suit the needs of family members of varying ages isn’t easy though. A trainer can help you pick a plan that works for you while encouraging family members to get involved. You may even want individualized plans that also include family exercise time that’s fun. Taking bike rides together, walks or even jogs through the park might do the trick.
- Make eating right cool – Children are not born with a hatred for fruits, vegetables and other healthy food choices. They learn to scorn these things when processed, sugary and salty snacks and treats are introduced into their diets. Reserve the unhealthy snacks and fast-foods for occasional treats and make the healthy options the staples in your house. Also make sure your family sees you eating healthy foods. If you munch on grapes, yogurt or whole grain crackers in between meals, your children will be more likely to do the same. At mealtime, present healthy options, but do take the steps to make them tasty and enjoyable. Grilled or broiled lean meats, fresh vegetables, whole grain side dishes and other similar choices are healthy and they can offer a lot of flavor.
- Make exercise fun – When it’s your time to exercise, don’t let your kids hear you complain. If you really can’t handle the idea of a trip to the gym on a particular day, load up the kids in the car and go to a park for a hike. Or, just head to the backyard for a game of Frisbee or something fun. You’ll know it’s exercise, but your kids won’t.
- Work on breaking bad habits – If you smoke or drink too much, take steps to kick these habits. When children see their parents smoking or drinking, they associate these behaviors with being grown up. They also believe they are acceptable. Keeping drinking down to low or moderate levels or giving up tobacco can send your children the message you want them to learn.
If you want your family to become healthier and more fitness conscious, you may have to take the first steps. When your children and even your spouse see you having fun, they are likely to follow your example. Working with your trainer or the pros at your fitness center can help you get off on the right foot to effect a change for yourself and your family.