I can remember my mom saying she just wanted to live long enough to see all of her three children reach adulthood. But while I was in college something came along to change that game plan. It was Seth, the first of her twelve grandchildren. She did live to see all of these children born. A favorite photo I have of her is her racing my youngest son, Kian. with his three year old arms flung in the air in victory.
As parents and potential grandparents, we have an investment in guarding our own health and fitness. We don’t just want to watch from the sidelines but we want to be able to go and do with the younger people in our lives. We have an even stronger urge to protect their health and fitness.
Here are six important facts to help you stay motivated to be physically active:
1. No matter what one’s weight or gender the biggest predictor of current exercise participation is past participation. Children who learn to enjoy physical activity or sports while they are young are much more likely to continue to do so as adults. Children will become intrinsically motivated to exercise when they are older if they experience it as being rewarding, fun, and relaxing when they are young. We continue doing what leads to happiness, freedom, and admiration and respect. We stop doing what we feel reveals our weaknesses or incompetencies. These early experiences with health and fitness need to be very positive and enjoyable.
2. Character counts. People with the character traits of being reliable, self-motivating, and disciplined are most likely continue with an exercise program. These traits are also best installed at a young age and parents are the most influential model and teacher of these traits. If you want your child to be dependable then you must be dependable, too.
3. Locus of control will influence if someone will participate in health and fitness programs. A person must believe that what they do matters when it comes to their health. Having access to and being taught the latest information on health and fitness related matters will increase a person’s active participation. If they are unaware of how much control over their own health and fitness they actually have via diet, exercise, and other lifestyle choices they will be less likely to do the things that are proven to enhance their health and fitness.
4. Perceived barriers such as a lack of time will discourage participation. Most health gains can be achieved in as little as 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week with additional muscle strengthening activities that are moderate or vigorous in intensity and involve all major muscle groups two or more times a week.
5. Perceived barriers such as a lack of exercise facilities will also discourage participation. As it turns out, there is no place like home. Body weight and exercises with simple, inexpensive home equipment can get the job done at home when people are given a well-designed, intelligent program to follow.
6. Social support from family and friends is an important predictor of whether someone will maintain an exercise program once they get started. Having someone to count on and someone counting on you to keep an exercise appointment can make all the difference. Iron sharpens iron and we can be key to each other’s success.
Begin today to implement each of these six motivational tools. Exercising with your children in a playful way now will cause them to associate fitness and happiness. This is the key to their participation in healthy activities throughout their lives.
Pamela Davenport, MSW, CPT, and mother of six is the author of Exercising Values, a handbook for raising fit, well-behaved children. This program is suitable for busy parents to fit in quality time with their children while getting in their own workout. Home educating parents can use it as their physical education program with integrated character training and literature education. Moms will find the support they need to stay stress-free and fit themselves while passing on this legacy to their children. To read her blog or get product information please visit: