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Family Health & Fitness Day- Tips for Getting the Family Active

By Melissa Summers

September 30th is Family Health & Fitness Day. Let’s start out with this plain fact: I hate exercise.

This is the part where you tell me how I just haven’t found the thing I like to do yet. And I’ll nod and stare blankly at you as you run through a long list of things you think I might like if I just tried. Things like running or step aerobics or jazzercise or strip aerobics or a soccer league or what about Mousercise. The thing is I won’t like any of it. I might like Mousercise, I mean check out that stylish lycra. But otherwise, no, I’m just not a fan of working out.

I do it anyway, cross training three days a week and one day of Pilates where the instructor works us so hard I sometimes want to cry. But ehh…fitness is something I do for the same reason I eat kale: I know it has stuff I need.

You’re thinking, ‘Why that’s silly! You should find something you like! What about kickboxing? I know! Punk Rock Aerobics is your thing!”  No it’s not. Nothing is my thing. Being done with a workout is my thing.

My husband on the other hand is an enthusiastic runner. He runs marathons and in between training sessions he likes to “mix it up” with cycling or weight training. The thought of ‘mixing it up’ makes me feel light headed with indignancy. He loves exercise so much, he has to mix it up! Woooo!

So we’re obviously approaching the fitness and health of our family from different points of view. For example, when I mentioned to Logan the upcoming Family Health and Fitness day he said, “Perfect! I’m running 20 miles!” I, on the other hand, will be going to the gym for my 30 minute session and at the end of the session I will run gleefully away from that horrible place.

Since we’re approaching our fitness goals from very different starting points (I just want it over, my husband wants to live in a hamster wheel, just so he can run more) I hope we’re giving our kids healthy attitudes toward exercise somewhere in the middle of the two of us.

My daughter collects the medals my husband has earned from various races and dreams of the day she and her dad will run a 5K together. However, she’s still savvy enough to ask, when told how dad rode his bike 150 miles which is just like biking all the way to grandma and grandpas house, ‘Wow, that’s really far, why wouldn’t you just drive?’

In looking for information about Family Health and Fitness day, I wondered how you make sure to show your kids you think personal fitness is important (even if you’re not a big fan of working out) and how do you incorporate your kids into a more family oriented fitness routine. Especially if your kids are like mine and not very interested in team sports activities.

A lot of the tips I found revolved around taking walks, hikes and bike rides with your kids. These are things we do, about once a week, but we also live in a cold climate where our days of reliably tolerable temperatures are fleeting rapidly.

I was thinking about the ways we’re physically active in our own house, most often spontaneously. Many nights, especially after dinner we turn on the music in the kitchen and dance for a while. Well the kids and I dance, my husband sort of flails his arms and calls it dancing. My kids also love wrestling, which is a great way to wear your kids out at the end of the day when you’re tired. Many evenings you’ll find me laying on my bed while my kids climb over me and struggle to stay where they are. I throw them off and they climb back on. We can do this for an hour and, surprisingly, I can almost fall asleep while playing this game.

Another practical way to get more physically active with your kids is to find an activity they like and you like (or, as in my case, find even marginally tolerable) and find a class to do it together. My daughter loved a yoga class she took at the YMCA, so we found a class to take together.

My kids also love swimming, so my husband takes them to open swim at the community pool about two times a month, especially over the winter. My husband takes them because, me in a swimsuit? I’m working up to it….don’t rush me.

I think we’re doing some things right, we set a good (enough) example about our own personal fitness level for the kids, my husband embraces physical activity and I do it anyway. We try to incorporate physical activity into our day at least some of the time. In thinking about it though, we have room to improve.

Still we’re doing some good things we can be proud of. What do you think you’re doing right in your family in keeping your kids active? Where can you improve?

Melissa Summers
About the Author

Melissa Summers

Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.


Melissa Summers was a regular contributor writing Melissa’s Buzz Off.

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  • Kizz

    September 30, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    Oh Melissa thank you. Thank you! I’ve been taking a specialized ballet class just so I’m doing SOMEthing. And my friends are all, “So, are you still enjoying ballet?” No! No no no! I don’t enjoy it, I never enjoyed it, it’s not at all enjoyable, I spend a decent portion of the time trying to subtly look at a clock or watch to see how soon before I can go into the locker room of bony naked women and then flee. So the friends say, “Well what would you like better?” And I say, “Nothing.” And they laugh. I’m not joking. Thank you for understanding. I’m proud of the progress I’m making but I’m never going to be all excited and looking forward to it.

  • Krissy

    September 30, 2006 at 7:08 pm

    I had no idea today was Family Health & Fitness Day until I read your column this evening.
    Today we attended my son’s soccer game — so at least he got exercise.
    After lunch, my husband and I took our two sons (ages 7 and 5) to a nearby state park on this glorious fall day. Our sons rode their bikes, my husband skated on his roller blades, and I got stuck running along with our leashed dog. Then our sons jumped along tons of rocks along the water.
    As a family, we also play tennis on the courts at our high school. Both of these activities are pretty fun and FREE.
    As for improvements, I need to improve on getting outside during our frigid New England winters. I have a neighbor who is constantly outside with her children — even in the sleet and snow. She inspires me at times, but I need to get my family out there more (okay, maybe not in the sleet!!)

  • Amy

    September 30, 2006 at 7:31 pm

    We got a trampoline. It’s fun when we all get out there on it and somehow, the scale said I was 3 lbs lighter after the first week or two….I don’t know if there’s a real connection or if my scales are just broken.

  • Isabel Kallman

    Isabel Kallman

    October 1, 2006 at 12:21 am

    Mousercise? HAHAHAHHAHA. Why had I never heard of this?? EVER.
    I need to get it back together. My son gets lots of activity. My husband, too. Me, I haven’t been to the gym in almost 2 years. I’m signing up again, tomorrow.

  • Melissa

    October 1, 2006 at 1:48 am

    I remember watching Mousercise. I don’t think I followed along back then, and I was like 10 or 11, and things have only gone downhill since then!

  • mo

    October 1, 2006 at 6:31 pm

    we used to do mousercise when i was in primary (elementary?) school. in the morning. before class. no kidding.
    when school starts in about a week (along with kindy) im going to make more of an effort to actually walk there which works out to about 4km (2.48 miles! according to my trusty calculator). he only has to do half that though. and thats four days a week, so, you know, thats about my limit.
    it would be nice if they could invent a chair that would cause me to lose weight and become magically fit while i sat on my ass at my computer.

  • Jenny

    October 2, 2006 at 8:41 am

    I even had the record…how embarrassing.

  • dutch from sweet juniper

    October 2, 2006 at 2:36 pm

    that kellyn from mousercise would be kind of hot if she didn’t have my grandma’s hairstyle.

  • kelly

    October 2, 2006 at 3:31 pm

    Our lack of physical activity due to work overload has been a big topic of conversation at our house the past month. We’re in the midwest too, and I seriously doubt we’ll be heading out into the bitter cold for hikes and long walks. We should. We’re all getting a serious pudge on.
    I know for myself I feel lethargic. My mental health needs some exercise probably even more than my physical health.
    We do the dancing thing too, but I have no patience for wrestling.
    Excellent post, food for thought. Chew, chew, chew.

  • Boutros

    October 4, 2006 at 1:29 pm

    Mousercise! Loved it, but it flashed me back to the Get in Shape, Girl line of kids fitness equipment they had back in the 80s. My mom bought me a few things and I was devastated, thinking she thought I was fat.

  • Michelle

    October 10, 2006 at 12:32 am

    Our community has a lot of cross country runners and bike trails to accomodate them. On Tuesday nights all fall they have family races where you can pick your distance from 1-10K. We’ve had a great time with it–I posted about it a couple weeks ago with pictures.
    I hate running and exercising with a passion, but being outside, together, and with a non-threatening amount of running (I’ll run the 1-2K with my four year-old while the older kids run middle distance and my husband runs the long) it’s not only bearable but fun.