The buddy system is widely used to help men and women get in shape. Friends can encourage their workout partners to get off the couch on days when their motivation might be waning, and partners can return that favor when the roles are reversed. And the benefits of the buddy system are not exclusive to adults, as families can rely on it to make sure moms, dads and kids each get the exercise they need.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ongoing exercise can help people of all ages control their weight, improve their mental health and mood and reduce their risk for various diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. And the benefits may go beyond those normally associated with exercise, particularly for young people. A 2009 analysis of the fitness records of 1.2 million Swedish men born between 1950 and 1976 found that the more exercise they had during adolescence, the more likely they were to be professionally successful as adults.
Getting fit as a family can be easy. The following are just a few ways parents and their children can get in shape together.
- Start dancing — Dancing isn’t just a fun activity, it’s also a very healthy one. While dancing might often be categorized as a recreational activity, such a categorization overlooks the many health benefits of cutting a rug. Dancing is a great cardiovascular exercise that works multiple parts of the body. Routine cardiovascular exercise has been linked to reduced risk for heart disease and other ailments. In addition, a 2009 study from researchers in South Korea found that hip hop dancing can boost mood and lower stress.
- Schedule daily exercise time — Parents and their children are as busy as ever, so it makes sense to schedule family exercise time just like you schedule family meals or outings to the museum. Kids who compete in sports may already get enough physical activity each day. The CDC recommends children participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, so kids who aren’t playing sports can spend an hour each day sweating alongside mom and dad.
- Walk after dinner — Families who routinely dine together can delay doing the dishes to walk off their meals. A walk around the neighborhood after dinner provides solid family time, but it’s also a great way to stay healthy. A 2017 study from researchers at the University of Warwick that was published in the International Journal of Obesity found that people who took 15,000 or more steps each day tended to have healthy body mass indexes, or BMIs. That’s an important benefit, as an unhealthy BMI is often a characteristic of obesity.
Getting fit as a family can be fun and pay long-term dividends for parents and children alike.