Hitting the Ground Running Part Two: Making It a Family Affair

Are you someone who engages in health-promoting activities alone or with others? Perhaps you enjoy joining others to play fun board games but never considered doing easy, short exercises as a group activity. Perhaps you derive pleasure from a solitary activity, such as the card game, solitaire or one of numerous game apps that can be downloaded onto your mobile device. Most of us would agree that doing a health promoting activity alone provides an opportunity to concentrate on yourself and to be mindful of how you’re progressing in your effort to be more physically or mentally fit. It provides you with the health-promoting opportunity of self-reflection and the often sought-after solitude of peace and quiet. And for many of us who are kept busy with family life, an involved work schedule, or both, alone-time is a rare and precious commodity. Most of us would also agree, that alone-time does not necessarily take priority over time spent doing something with others. There is indeed a benefit to engaging in a health-promoting activity with someone else. In fact, partnering up with others can make for a more fulfilling journey to establishing a routine that is health promoting for all involved. What would make this particularly enjoyable is doing it with someone close to you such as people in your family or in your circle of friends. Below are examples of some activities worth doing with others.

Play a Health-promoting Game

Yoga Pretzels (see the sidebar for health-promoting buys) is described as a family activity where you learn ways to use yoga to “stretch your way to a fun and healthy lifestyle.”  It is a game that my wife introduced to my kids and they love it.Observing them doing this activity together when I arrived home from work one evening compelled me to jump in and join the yoga fun. I jokingly tell others that it like the game, Twister (remember when this was popular?), without becoming twisted with the participants. It is indeed a game that can be just as fun to do with friends. A similar statement could be said for activities that are not necessarily games but are health-promoting and can be done as a family or with friends. Such activities permits you and others to have a fun and a healthy way to become more physically and mentally fit. Activities can includes those that are ordinarily done alone. Take the plank exercise I described in the previous posting.

Who Can Hold a Plank Longer?

I began doing the plank exercise during the mornings this past spring. Of course, it meant that I needed to pace myself so that I can do this exercise and then attend to my two older boys to ensure they would be ready to be drop off at school before I go to work. Of course, things do not always go perfectly well for me when I’m trying to keep my kids and myself on task in the morning. One morning, I unintentionally (as I always convince myself that it’s unintentional) slept 30 minutes longer and was hoping to squeeze the plank challenge into my routine before getting the kids up. My eldest son, age seven at the time, woke up early that morning and noticed that I was doing the exercise. He asked what I was doing and I explained it to him. His eyes lit up and he wanted to join in. My eyes lit up as well followed by an “Oh, no!” whispered to myself. For five seconds, I was hoping he would run off to brush his teeth so I could get this task out of the way. Then I remembered that he’s someone who has learned to like brief exercises because his karate instructor uses exercises, such as crunches, jumping jacks, or pushups, with him and the other students in his karate class. As you may have read in the previous posting, the plank exercise starts off as something brief. Because of its simplicity, it was an easy activity to do with my son.

Since that spring morning, any time I plan to do the plank exercise and he is around, I ask him if he wants to join me. More times than not, he joins in. And it has turned out to be a fun way to start off the morning with him. It also provides me an opportunity to reinforce in him the importance of starting off the morning in a health-promoting way. I certainly have come to appreciate how much the plank exercise is much better than seeing my son start off the school mornings with watching cartoons. Beside, that’s what Saturday mornings are for 😉

Just Remember…

Whatever the activity, remember to make it a routine that is convenient to all involved and to have fun. Also, remember this. If all involved come to know the activity as routine and fun, it will add another social dimension to your existing relationship with them. After all, doing an activity with others creates the health-promoting opportunity to deepen social ties and create a shared interest that is meaning to all 🙂