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.
As always, much love for supporting my work. I will be adding many more posts to highlight parenting and healthcare tips, so be sure to consider subscribing to my podcast or to my blog to avoid missing a post!
I love this post! I truly believe that you need to instill healthy lifestyle habits early on in life in order for them to stick longterm.
I absolutely agree with you. We just have to make it a priority.
Such a great post! I love the fact that you taught your kids about physical health at a young age! I am doing the same with my kids. As a certified personal trainer, this is super important to me!
You will no doubt help your kids love fitness the way my husband did. Watching my girls grow up, it was a gift to that keeps giving to them!
Such great tips! Fitness can be fun for the whole family with just a little effort!
Yes, we definitely had family fitness events. Even ran some 5K races together.
As a fitness instructor, I love working out around my kids. Kids mimic what they see and there is something so great about watching your kids choose to run with you or do yoga etc.
You are absolutely correct. They copy us and then they want to have their own! We had old school videos of work out Barbie that they loved. This was the picture of my girls I captured for the photo on this blog!
Physical fitness is so important! My parents had me in sports my whole childhood and I know that’s why fitness and nutrition is still important to me today. Keep motivating us younger parents to do the right things and get away from all those electronics!
Indeed. Electronics have their place but they should not take over our lives. I also had my kids in sports all through school which helped with friendships and learning to be a team player.
What a great cocept, in a culture where the childhood obesity rate continues to climb we need more people actually working to solve the problem.
Yes, so many kids who I see in my practice have no activity at all. I have started suggesting a family walk after dinner. If the parents get out and do it, the kids come along.
So true. Some of my favorite bonding activities have included the kids run and 5ks with my family. They enjoyed beating their mom to the finish line– and I enjoyed seeing them do something that got them off the couch.
Yes, we did 5Ks as a family when they were young but then since I was not such a great athlete, I became the cheerleader for them. I even drove around the city for check-ins while my daughter ran a marathon!
I agree that kids need to learn physical fitness early in life. My aunt is a PE teacher so being physically active is important to our family. Being physically active means less time on electronics, which in this day and age is always a good thing! Very good post!
Yes!! We need to start early insisting that electronics are not the priority. It can be one activity just like playing outside counts. Just keep kids moving.
It’s all about teaching them good things when they are young. And health is no different!
You are so right. As parents we have many different aspects of life that we need to teach our kids. Sometimes exercise is forgotten and it must be added back to the list.
Getting them into physical fitness in some way or another is so important for them. Trying to get kids to establish the habits to be happy is so much better at an earlier age than trying to do it later on. And knowing the importance of being active is important in a . world full of screens.
I agree. When they work out or play sports when young, they assume that as part of their life just like playing a musical instrument. The earlier it is started the more it becomes a normal part of life.
I used to hate PE in school as well but then, once I grew up I start enjoying going to the gym. I think that most of the girls in my class didn’t like PE and that is mostly because of the teachers unfortunately.
I am so jealous! I kept waiting to start liking the gym but I think I have PE trauma. I am glad my girls do not have it.
I agree with you learning from early always help them to grow better and healthy. I make sure my kids get enough exercise everyday. Yes my kids are fit even though I am still struggling to get rid of baby weight.
WooHoo! We do need to focus on our kids being better than we are. Just because we are not in shape doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be.
Yes I completely agree it’s so important to teach kids fitness at a young age. We too have a home gym and my youngest loves to set up stations for everyone. He has a killer work out! lol I also think as long as they are running around the yard or climbing on a playground that its good physical activity as well.
Oh, that’s awesome. Stations! We never had that. Love his creativity with his workouts.
I love this post and its suggestions for promoting healthier active habits for our kids. We live in a digital era and our kids are not moving as much as they should. Excellent ideas for all of us parents to consider.
Thank you for these excellent tips. However, children differ. I have three kids. The first two went to various sports and practiced from their early days. They are teenagers and still have this habit. The youngest is completely different and does not like any kind of sport.
I agree that kids are different. I never liked sports and my siblings were amazing athletes. I was not put into the activities that I did not like so here I am. My youngest has never liked sports either. I stressed the sports as a need for fitness and found things like track where they can do long jumps or throwing sports. Or even cross country where you only run for your own time. I always fear that if kids don’t do sports they become less active. Now some kids join drama and are in plays and are not sedentary. The key is…what do you do when you are not in school? Just keeping electronics off is the first step!
I also would like to do this. It would also force me to exercise with them. Would like to make it daily, too. Twice a week they go to ballet but it’s not enough. It would be nice if we do something together–the three of us. 😀
Looking back on things, I wish I had done more with them instead of letting daddy do it. I suggest to many of my families that they can start with family walks. After dinner to burn off food, just walking a mile is the first step. Kids learn its a routine and it then can become a habit.
Very important..I see so many fat couch potatoes eating junk and not do anything that it scares me…timely post
Yes, even if someone does not play sports, the electronics make people much too sedentary. Getting up to do a hobby or any activity is better than the couch and electronics!
Getting kids more active when they are young is so important. I feel like too much these kids want to just sit back on their games or watch videos on Youtube.
Yes, technology has become a double-edged sword. It should add to our lives and not take away other things for value.
Physical fitness is so important for kids especially in such a digital world. My kids grew up playing many sports with some time for video games and TV. The balance is important. Now my grand kids are doing the same thing with sports and outdoor activities.
Playing outside and putting down screens is critical. As kids get older, learning team sports is also good for emotional development.
I appreciate your story. I became chubby after puberty and always battled weight no matter how hard I worked out ha! I realiezed later in life that I had to work a little bit harder to achieve my weight goals by working on hormones. Absolutely agree! I always make time to exercise with my son, and make sure we get plenty of exercise through out the year. We’ve done yoga as well. They mirror everything we do, so it’s important to include fitness for their overall well being.
Thank you for sharing your story. We all need to figure out how to make things work for us.
I really appreciate that you have thought about it. Because my mom takes me to a yoga teacher at the age of 2.5 years. Yes, it is… But now I realize how important was that for me. Even now i very much fit and flexible like any other gym teacher after leaving my practice..
That is awesome. A fit and active parent often starts teaching their kids early. I am hoping to motivate even non-fit or active parents to still consider some involvement in kids.