Ep 6: Motivate and Empower Kids by Teaching Physical Fitness Early
This episode of the Dr. Momma Podcast discusses how it is important for parents to motivate and empower their children by teaching kids physical fitness when they are very young so that it becomes a way of life. This can be done even if your personal fitness level is not ideal!
In fact, teaching our kids physical fitness is just as important as teaching our kids financial fitness. As adults, we may look back at our journey with finances and perhaps understand why our kids need to do better. The same is with physical fitness which is important for long term health.
I chose this topic today because I just walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes. Woohoo!
You may not know it but this little bit of exercise has just qualified me to earn a medal. I celebrate and appreciate every effort I make toward fitness because despite my being a physician who promotes health and wellness, my personal physical fitness was never really on my to-do list.
My early experiences with physical fitness
Physically, I have always been on the chunky side. In fact, my brother nicknamed me Chubby when I was young. Boy, do I wish I was chubby again. In fact, it is a pipe dream of mine to just be chubby once again! But I believe I left chubby in the dust many years ago.
The memories that I have of being fit and active are not good ones. I remember in grade school, we had gym class and wore those ridiculous one-piece zip-up gym uniforms. I would play with my friends and have a good ole time, but then once a year I wanted to crawl into a hole and curl up because….it was the fitness day in class.
The teachers would pull out that ginormous scale and put it in the center of the gym. We would sit cross-legged until our names were called and in front of the class, each of us would stand on the scale and the teacher would call out our weight. I was always mortified since I always weighed more than everyone else.
In high school, PE was still required. I never liked PE and fitness was never a priority in my life.
My physical fitness improved because of my husband
So Yes, I went to PE for the rest of my school life, hating every dang second of it. Clearly, I was hard-wired to dislike fitness.
How ironic was it that I started dating a guy who was a bonafide Gym Rat? I mean obsessed with working out. He was that guy whose arms were so huge he had to cut the sleeves to make them fit. He had that thick neck like Hulk Hogan, huge chest, and tiny waist.
We were in different cities most of our dating life, so I would visit on the weekends and every Saturday and Sunday we would go to his gym….for 4 dang hours! He was in that exclusive room with free weights and wearing that leather waist support and had on leather work out gloves.
I would do an aerobics or step class, then do a complete circuit on the weight machines and the go into the steam room, sauna, and jacuzzi. Then shower and dress and we would then go to breakfast. This was our ritual, and I accepted it; however, I never loved it.
Teaching physical fitness to my kids became a priority
I knew that I hated working out but loved that my boyfriend/husband was a workout fanatic. I wanted him to teach our kids to have that same love of working out and being fit.
My oldest started when she was a few months old. We had a Jacuzzi in the backyard, and we turned the temp down to be a glorified bathtub. My baby was a tiny thing floating on her back and then learned to kick and kinda swim across the Jacuzzi. She loved the water and went to join the swim team and was a lifeguard right up to the summer before starting college.
She learned to walk on the treadmill and grew to love running. Eventually, she joined the cross country team, was co-captain on varsity cross country in high school and actually ran a full marathon in college.
My youngest just fell into the daddy workout system because it was set up when she arrived. She was active early on and earned a black belt in karate at age 10. She loved many sports, including basketball and played aggressively despite her height.
Many of her friends, even now, are super tall but she often does not know it until she looks at pictures and says wow I look short. I smile because it is well known that she is short, but each time she sees it, she seems surprised.
Despite this physical discrepancy, she has figured out the way to run and use work out machines. She has simply learned that she has to take twice as many steps as everyone else. But she gets it done.
A home gym may make working out easier
When the girls were young, they had some workout tapes and also had workout sessions in our home gym.
And when I say home gym, I really mean GYM! We have a treadmill, stair-step machine, elliptical, a stationary bike, a Bowflex machine and even one of those weird gravity machines to hang upside down because “its good for you”. The room has cool rubber flooring and one wall is covered with a mirror. A true gym. My girls and husband love it.
But, me? My visits were only a few times a year when someone new would come to our house and I gave them a tour!
The reason I share this story with you is that many people feel that it is two-faced to ask your kids to do things that you are not doing. You know, lead by example. And I do agree with that. I lead by example in many other areas of life but you cannot be a superstar in everything. You need to know your weakness and find a way to not make your kids have the same ones.
Kids can be fit whether you are fit or not!
The bottom line: if you are a fit and active parent, your kids will tend to be. It is important for long-term health to work out and get moving.
But, If you are like me, where the couch is your friend, please do not think it is hypocritical to require your kids to be active. Make it your mission to put away their electronics and sign them up for sports or other activities that make them move.
In my medical practice, I always ask kids what they do when they are not studying and being smart in school (you know I have to always plug that nerd path) and it makes me sad when so many kids say: I just watch TV or play video games or chill in the basement with friends. Well, it’s not too late. Maybe this podcast will motivate you to motivate your kids to increase their physical fitness. It will be something that can benefit them for the rest of their lives.
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