Fitness for the Whole Family: Why Staying Fit Together Works Best
There are many types of gyms that are promoted as being family friendly, but at some of them, "kids activities" often involve being parked in front of a TV in a childcare area, or exercising only their thumbs because they're playing games on their iPads. At others, kids might get some activity, but it might be running around in a large space or inventing new forms of dodgeball.
That's unfortunate, because it represents a huge missed opportunity. When family members focus on fitness together—even if they're all pursuing different sports or workout options—it brings huge benefits in terms of family cohesion, motivating each other, and reduced stress.
For kids, taking classes that focus on skill building of some type can have advantages that extend far beyond the gym:
More knowledge of exercise and nutrition
In a study of elementary school children, those who teamed up with their parents for exercise ended up with better understanding of how to stay fit and they could articulate why activity is important. They also tended to get more exercise after the study ended. Also, even though the study was about activity, the families that exercised together reported that the children were more interested in healthy eating and nutrition than those where the children exercised solo.
Higher confidence, lower stress
When a child progresses in a class, such as martial arts or even yoga, there's a sense of confidence that comes through in their interactions with others and belief in what they can do. Some researchers have suggested that the connection between athletic activity and higher grades may be because of better self-confidence. There's also a connection between working out and lower stress levels—which means that if everyone in the family is increasing their fitness, it could lower conflict and squabbles that are often the result of stress.
Better body, better brain
Because physical activity increases blood flow in all parts of the body, it also gives brain cells more blood and oxygen, which is especially important for kids. Studies have noted that exercise can give children and teens better thinking skills, and even improve their moods since physical activity increases brain chemicals that are natural stress fighters. When another family member or parent is involved, it motivates kids to progress faster and feel more invested in their health.
Concentrating on fitness as a family, and making workouts and classes a priority, can redefine family time. Not only does it give the family an opportunity to be together, but it offers a chance to be involved in each other's lives in a healthy, happy way.
Kids will understand that fitness doesn't mean they get sent into childcare for an hour or two to work on their video game skills—it means everyone can have fun getting fit, and they can do it as a family.
To check out youth and adult classes that have something for everyone in the family, pick up a UFC Gym Free Pass.