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Family Fitness: Importance, Effort, Goals And Activity Suggestions!

If you are a parent, your child's interest in exercise and sport is well founded. Consider that over 60% of all children in this country are considered overweight. Get some great tips and suggestions for improving your family’s fitness level...

Each and every day those of us in the fitness industry are united by our quest to keep fit. For most of us it is an obsession to format our daily routines to improve ourselves. The biggest thing missing usually is our own family participation in our world.

If you are a parent, your child's interest in exercise and sport is well founded. Consider that over 60% of all children in this country are considered overweight. A large percentage of those children are unable to perform the minimum requirements of the fitness test associated with the President's Council on Physical Fitness.

Family & Exercise

Our children often take our attention, but the fact is that our parents and grand parents can benefit from exercise too. Studies have shown that individuals at any age can become more self efficient, retard aging, reduce depression, and obtain less of a need for pain medication if they do exercises to improve strength.

The older generations are tough, since they have usually been raised to think that work ends at 65 and activity such as those associated with a gym are too much like work.

The spouse is usually the toughest sell. They know all the dirt on us personally and usually have lots of luggage to carry with them. It is hard in most cases for that individual to take on a submissive role associated with most fitness settings and let us lead.

All of this doesn't change the fact that if anyone exercises the benefits are overwhelming. The trouble is that most of us have way too much of an obsessive compulsive disorder to include our families into our daily fitness routines.

My own children look at me as the "Drill Sergeant" of fitness if I am making my own meals and directing my fitness protocol. The choice is simple to get other family members involved. Choose some alternative approaches and then back off, I mean way off.

Have You Ever Tried To Get A Family Member To Start Exercising?


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder:

    The last statement may have startled you so let me explain. You and I are likely to be considered the odd ones. We must both change our ideas of thinking. Even as a trainer, the idea that clients have about fitness, and goals is certainly lacking in intensity, as far as you are concerned.

    To the real hardcore fitness enthusiast, getting up at three in the morning, eating raw foods, drinking protein drinks and working out for three hours a day is considered normal. Truth is, it is borderline insane. We all suffer from an "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder." Luckily our OCD has benefits, yet sometimes can become so routine-that we forget what normal is.

    What Is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
    A type of anxiety disorder (commonly referred to as OCD) characterized by recurrent, persistent, unwanted, and unpleasant thoughts (obsessions) or repetitive, purposeful ritualistic behaviors that the person feels driven to perform (compulsions). A cardinal feature of this disorder is an awareness of the irrationality or excess of the obsessions and compulsions accompanied by an inability to control them.

Patience & Guidance:

    Motivating your family takes patience and slow guidance, with a healthy dose of positive reinforcement. Take your children for example. Some children will quickly jump at any chance just to be with you, but you are making the rules and they will continue to make attempts at pleasing you.

    Most fitness enthusiast will ask for too much and result in obvious or hidden injury to a child. Our offspring and our parents require a simple, back to basics approach to find excitement and fulfillment from exercise.


    Most of them are not physically ready to participate at fitness at our level. Some of us have been training for years and our body's response to training is quick. Your family member's are like most individuals, they can take months or even years to respond to the level of intensity associated with training that you are accustomed towards doing.

Choice Of Participation:

    The first step is to offer the family member a choice of participation. Make sure you have lots of choices of what you can do. Pick things that do not require much skill or better yet, do things that make you personally feel uncomfortable. For example, I swim like a rock. My daughter Cassie can swim like a fish, yet to go for a walk on land, is very taxing to her.

    The best choice of fitness for me with her is to go swimming. Consider several things that will make the other person feel comfortable and you a little less in-charge. Older folks have often been taught that hard work will keep you healthy.

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    There could be a whole article on how to determine when your child should or should not play, we don't have the room to discuss that here, but I will outline some guidelines below.

    My daughters have also suggested the following:

    • Make it a family effort and make it fun, do games like tag.
    • Instead of walking on a treadmill, go for a walk in the woods to take away the idea of exercising. Always look for a distraction.
    • Make sure you start slowly to develop the habit of exercising first. The best time is right after the family dinner.
    • Try going to the local pool, play tag in the water too and show the kids that exercising can be fun.
    • Mix it up and offer different areas of destination, like the zoo.
    • Offer to get a family membership at a gym. Suggest that they do activities while you do your workout.
    • Try exercising as a group in front of your favorite T.V. program. Do simple floor exercises as a group.
    • Take the dogs for a walk. This allows for the correction of two things at once. Kids love dogs, so do older people. Buy your mom or dad a dog; that they will fall in love with and have to walk.
    • Always offer positive reinforcement. Never be negative. Never!

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Child Safety:

    Having your child exercise is great and installs a load of great lessons that help your child in all facets of life. Knowing the limits of your child is - a good idea to monitoring their activities - a safe and positive one.

    Obviously sometimes children need to be lead and should learn to obey our wishes, but knowing when to say "sit down", is just as important. In the long run the child will learn to respect your advice, which is an important key for your relationship in the teenage years. Trust me on that one.

    To help you determine when it is safe for your child to participate in any athletic activity:

    1. If your child can point to the pain with one finger, see a doctor.
    2. If your child complains longer than two days about an injury that isn't getting better, see a doctor.
    3. If the child has a rash, see a doctor.
    4. If the child is running a fever, they don't play.
    5. If the child is showing abnormal motor signs, or can't bear weight, see a doctor.
    6. Other abnormal signs like blood, discharges, other things that don't seem normal, see a doctor.
    7. If your child increasingly complains about an injury, see a doctor.
    8. If your child has numbness after any injury, then see a physician.
    9. If your child has been knocked unconscious, see a physician.
    10. If your child is hoarse after a throat injury, call 911.

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    Feel free to copy this list and hang it on the wall or refrigerator. Let the kids know the rules so when you say "NO," they have only me to blame.

    This list is not all inclusive and it is tough to list all the potential problems that can occur, but use some common sense and the above guidelines and you will catch most major problems. Persistent signs of regret are also important to listen to.

    An unmotivated child participating in athletics is 88% more likely to be injured according to the American College of Sports Medicine. Think about it, if you are distracted or tired, how much more likely are you to make a judgment error while driving? Unmotivated children are the same formula to spell disaster.

Significant Other:

    The spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other; is a tough sell like I said earlier. Sometimes the simplest thing to do is hire a personal trainer. The idea is to participate in activities that they enjoy and feel good about.

    Make sure you stay positive, even if they give up. Maintain the thinking of commenting on the good things in their efforts and saying nothing about the lack of effort.

    When questions are asked to you about fitness/nutrition/exercise, give simple easy to understand responses that focus on the basics. This is something that I have to work on personally. I have a tendency to give too technical of an answer to a question, because of my background.

    Couples Training:


    Parents are the last topic I will cover here. Consider that the benefits of aging parents are that they are less likely to be a tug on your purse strings if they become more fit. Studies show they are less likely to need medications, be more self sustained and have a less likely debilitating illness when they participate in a moderate exercise program.

    This is very simple and suggesting simple eating plans and daily walking makes all the difference in the world. Understand that their culture and thinking is completely different than yours and exercise to them is WORK. Do you want to work in your own spare time?

Have You Ever Associated Exercise With Work?



I hope and pray this gets you started and makes you feel more inclined to encourage loved ones to participate in fitness activities. Take simple steps to influence the lives of those around you by being positive and not judgmental.

Offer help, but only give it when asked. Remember too, if they bite, don't real them in like a first bite from a fish. Give it time, everyone doesn't think like you and I. That is probably good, since you and I are OCD and need to settle down a bit and not be so serious.

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This article is dedicated to a very special little girl who lost her life to a genetic disorder. She was only on Earth for a few years, but blessed many people with her presence. After reading this article, stop and think about those that can't work out and wish they could.