Stand on the sideline of any local sports team on a Saturday morning and you will no doubt see the players' number one fans screaming out words of encouragement. But ask this group of cheerleaders if they have the same enthusiasm when it comes to looking after their health and fitness and you may find a different story.
With the demands of a busy family and work lives often exercise can drop to the bottom of every parent's to-do list. The roller-coaster that is parenthood can turn even the most committed fitness fanatics into sideline cheerleaders and taxi drivers. Physical inactivity is the second-highest lifestyle-related cause of chronic disease and illness in Australia. Sedentary behaviours can cause gradual weight gain increased blood pressure increased cholesterol and impaired glucose tolerance. All of which put you at an increased risk of heart disease diabetes stroke cancer etc. A small factor like going for a 30min walk on most days can help stop a vicious circle of long term health complications that can impact your family.
Research also suggests that parents who exercise regularly have children who have higher participation levels in sport. Parents are the best role models for their children and play a big part in shaping their attitudes and involvement in sport and regular exercise. Many parents are involved in their children's sporting clubs as coaches or team managers but parents can also join social level teams and lead by example. Get the whole family involved in your local club and spend a Sunday afternoon perfecting your skills with a fun family training session at your local park.
Exercise for health benefits
We hear time and time again that exercise is the magic pill to improve our health but what exactly should we be doing each week:
- 20-30 mins of moderate-intensity on most days for our heart and lungs.
- 2-3 resistance/strength training sessions for our muscles bones and joints.
- Core strengthening exercises for healthy backs and good posture.
10 tips for making exercise a habit:
- Schedule exercise into your diary.
- Simple strength exercises using your own body weight such as squats pushups and lunges can be done anywhere and don't come with an expensive fee attached.
- Make the most of your workouts combine resistance exercises with moderate to high-intensity aerobic exercise (jogging, running, sprints, stair climbing) for a time efficient and effective workout.
- Wake up half an hour earlier to go for a walk and spend 5 minutes completing simple core strengthening exercises such as leg floats pelvic curls and plank holds straight after.
- Once your kids are old enough pop them on the bus instead of driving them to school and use that time to get your exercise in or walk them to school so you all get the benefits.
- Don't forget about creating ‘me' time for yourself. Exercise is a powerful stress reliever. You are more likely to be a happier and healthier person physically and mentally.
- Instead of sitting in the car watching your kids training sessions use that time to go for a walk or run around the training field. You can still keep an eye on them while getting your exercise in.
- Set goals so that your health and fitness has direction and you can track your achievements.
- Suggest joining a group exercise session with other parents.
- Register for a family fun run event and get everyone moving. The Mothers' Day Classic in Sydney is just around the corner and a great place to start.
Written by Anna-Louise Moule Accredited Exercise Physiologist at Beyond Exercise Studio
- Exercise is Medicine http://www.exerciseismedicine.com.au/
- Parental exercise is associated with Australian children's extracurricular sports participation and cardiorespiratory fitness: A cross-sectional study Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2005; 2: 3. Published online 2005 April 6. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-2-3 PMCID: PMC1087868
- Physical Activity Guidelines for Australia Adults http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#guidelines_adults