As we all know, being a parent is the most important job in the world. Our children look up to us for guidance on everything in life, even if we don’t realize it. One way that you can be a positive role model to your kids is in the area of fitness. Staying fit is critical to our health and well-being—including our mental health and happiness. We can help shape our children’s views on exercise by modeling healthy behavior and making fitness a fun part of our family’s daily routine.
Why Exercise Is Important For Managing Stress and Anxiety
Experts have found a clear link between exercise and stress reduction. Harvard scientists concluded that “Regular aerobic exercise has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress.” According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, some studies show that consistent exercise can be just as effective as medication for some people to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Other research shows that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety than those who do not exercise. In one study, researchers found that those who got regular vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.
Here are several ways in which exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety:
Produces Endorphins. When we exercise, our body releases feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. These chemicals in our brain act as natural painkillers, making us feel better and less stressed. Endorphins are responsible for the natural high we get from a hard workout.
Reduces Stress Hormones. Exercise reduces the level of stress hormones in our body like adrenaline and cortisol, helping us feel calmer.
Minimizes Fatigue. Exercise improves blood flow and our body’s ability to use oxygen efficiently. These changes in our brain then reduce fatigue and improve alertness, concentration, and cognitive function. This helps us when we are stressed out because we are depleted and need to return to a more balanced level of energy. When we are stressed, many nerves in our brain and throughout out body are impacted. Scientists conclude, therefore, that if our body feels better, then our mind will also feel better.
Improves Self-Esteem. Behavioral factors also contribute to the emotional benefits of exercise. When we gain strength and begin to see a difference in our body, we feel better about ourselves and become happier and more confident. Feeling better about ourselves shifts our focus to positive thoughts and away from fear and anxiety.
Provides A Fun Distraction. One of the best parts about exercise is that it gives us a time to take a fun break from the stresses in our daily lives. Whether you are jogging to your favorite upbeat music or socializing with friends on the tennis court, your mind is distracted and you can just have a good time.
Encourages Mindfulness. A great bonus of exercise is that it provides the perfect opportunity to enjoy a mindful moment. While we work out, we can fully engage in the present moment instead of letting our mind run wild with worries. To get the best result, experts suggest doing rhythmic activities that engage the whole body like running, walking, swimming, dancing, rowing, or climbing. Helpguide.org suggests that “as you move, instead of continuing to focus on your thoughts, focus on the sensations in your limbs and how your breathing complements your movement. If your mind wanders to other thoughts, gently return to focusing on your breathing and movement. If walking or running, for example, focus on each step—the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the rhythm of your breath while moving, and the feeling of the wind against your face.”
How To Be A Good Fitness Role Model
It’s so important that we play actively with our kids, such as yoga, walking outdoors, jumping rope, running on a treadmill, and even fun indoor exercise games. Another important step you can take is to consistently exercise in front of your kids starting when they are babies to show them how important physical fitness is. Finding time to exercise with kids can be challenging. But what if you had a virtual trainer that you could access anytime, anywhere?
I’ve teamed up with a fantastic online program that is so incredibly convenient. OnlineGym4me is an online video platform backed by tennis superstar Ana Ivanovic and Technogym. It offers daily live and on-demand aerobics, general training, yoga, and pilates online video workouts. These video classes are perfect for busy moms who want to sneak a workout into their super busy schedule and exercise right from home, or even the playground.
Their New Mommy, Fit Body Online Workout Program is a 3-week online workout program designed especially to help new moms strengthen their post-pregnancy body. The program consists of 6 classes, each lasting just 15 minutes. You can do the program whenever you find a little time, and you can do each class as many times as you want, or even pause it if your mommy duties can’t wait.
The best part is that they are offering a free post-pregnancy online workout program and free yearly membership to all of you Happy Science Mom readers! Click here to get your free subscription.
Finally, they are working on developing programs for children and teens as well, so stay tuned for that.
How Are You A Positive Fitness Role Model?
I dragged my kids to the gym with me from the time they were in their baby carrier. They have grown up with me talking about working out, going for bike rides, or swimming laps. I want to hear your tips about being a positive role model in your children’s lives when it comes to physical fitness. Share your stories in the comments below. Here are some amazing examples from other parenting bloggers:
- Rachel of Don’t Call Me Supermom: “I try to set a good example by going to my weekly Zumba class without fail. No excuses!” Check out her post The Stay At Home Mom Exercises: My Top Ten Tips and Motivation.
- Shannon of We’ll Eat You Up We Love You So: “By biking back and forth to the train I take to work and often walking other places, I make active transportation a part of my everyday life. My older son knows that I bike every morning and even my baby has started to recognize when I put my bike helmet on that I’m leaving very soon!”
- Sybil of A Mom’s Blog: “My eight year old LOVES yoga. As a matter of fact, she blogs about fashion and yoga. She puts a sign up sheet outside of her door for her students (her dolls) to sign up for her classes. Well, I started signing up, dressed and ready to go for her classes. We workout together one to two times a week, with her leading.”
- Stephanie of Snackdinner: In her article Mini Workout Coach: Four Workouts Your Child Will Actually Let You Finish, she suggests four clever workouts moms can do in front of their kids.
- Liz of Urban Beach Baby: “Fitness is a part of my daily life and my daughter often joins in on the fun.” Check out her post Quick Exercise Options For Busy Parents.
- Kelli of ClubConnect: “The best way to encourage your kids to be active is to consistently exercise with your kids. Go bike riding, take walks around the neighborhood, and play sports with them in the yard. When your kids see you exercising, they are going to want to follow suit. Instead of letting them watch TV or play video games after school, make it part of the daily routine to do something active together. By exercising as a family you’ll be imparting great values that they’ll take with them for the rest of their lives.”