Child’s Play: Why Parents Should Join the Fun
It might be tempting to catch up on emails while your kids are playing at the park, but getting off the bench and joining in the fun can help you bond with your children while teaching them healthy habits.
“Parents setting an example of a healthy lifestyle by being active during playtime can lead kids to have better attitudes about health and fitness later in life,” says Antoinette Cheney, DO, an osteopathic family physician in Lone Tree, Colorado, and a mother of two.
Focusing on preventive care, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, or DOs, look beyond your symptoms to consider how environmental and lifestyle factors impact your health. They also partner with their patients to help them get healthy and stay well.
Hidden Workout for Parents
Both you and your child can reap the physical benefits of playing a game of freeze tag, tossing a frisbee or taking a turn on the monkey bars.
“All of these activities play a role in our overall health, including helping to prevent weight gain,” says Adarsh Gupta, DO, an osteopathic family physician in Stratford, New Jersey.
Running around with the kids might not be the same as your solo five mile run, but running in 15 minute intervals throughout the day can add up.
“I wouldn’t count on this as my main source of fitness, but it definitely contributes,” Dr. Cheney says. “If you are getting really winded after only a few steps of running around with your kids, it might signal that you need to take your own fitness a little more seriously.”
Homework: Be Active as a Family
Dr. Cheney’s children grew up watching their parents run marathons and triathlons. The experience taught them about the hard work and dedication required to meet challenging fitness goals, Dr. Chaney says. Now they run alongside their parents in family fun runs.
“The lesson is trying your best and finishing what you started,” Dr. Cheney says.
Here are some other suggestions for spending active time with your family:
- Use playground equipment for your workout. “Take a try at doing pull ups on the monkey bars or tricep dips on the bench,” Dr. Cheney says.
- Engage in active games such as bowling, swimming or video games that require dancing or sports movement.
- If your kids are old enough, go on longer bike rides, walks or hikes. “Hiking can be a good activity because there is usually a lot of scenery to keep the kids’ attention,” Dr. Cheney says.