Families, kids and adults alike, need exercise for physical, emotional, and mental wellness. Exercise helps us tackle mental challenges like that big math test your oldest child needs to ace on Friday and emotional matters like sensitive issues you and your partner are currently working through. The benefits of exercise make the effort worth it:
- Strengthen muscles and bones
- Develop a leaner body
- Decrease the likelihood of obesity
- Reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Lower blood pressure
- Manage cholesterol levels
- Fight depression
- Boost serotonin levels
- Increase confidence
Meeting goals achieved through consistent exercise helps you feel better overall. Positive vibes and health benefits are not only for the grown-ups in the household, but also for the kids. However, the task is easier said than done, especially when it comes to finding the time and location to make it happen.
The Fight Against Time, Location, And Convenience
Walking, running, and biking greatly helps fitness, but not everyone lives in a city or suburb. Playing sports like basketball, soccer, or an epic game of backyard wiffle ball results in fun, health, and great memories. However, these activities are impractical in the Midwest during an 18 degree winter afternoon with a foot of snow. Fast-paced yard work burns calories and creates team building, but you can’t do much yard work if you live in a condo or apartment.
Time hinders working out as well. Who has the time to drive to the gym before or after work? When you must contend with traffic, errands, extra-curricular school activities, homework, making and eating dinner, and packing lunches for tomorrow – especially with that big project for work due on Wednesday – a trip to the gym feels like trying to shove an extra pair of jeans into a suitcase that’s already bursting at the seams. You might even want to (gasp!) sleep for a few hours before you wake up and get the slow-moving creatures dressed, fed, and out the door for school while you miraculously and simultaneously ready yourself for the day.
To tackle these problems, families need a solution that is local, convenient, indoor, and simple. A treadmill might provide a worthy answer for that busy family that needs to increase their overall health through exercise.
More Than A Monotonous Jog
A fast-paced life that creates a need for an in-home treadmill does not mean that your cardio workout has to bore you to tears. Running on a treadmill doesn’t have to be a monotonous event for 30 minutes every single day. In fact, the whole family can use infinite combinations of workouts to make spending time on a treadmill fun. Here are just a few examples:
- Walk/jog intervals – Combine walking and jogging for a moderate, fat-burning workout that boosts your heart rate.
- Jog/sprint intervals – Alternate between jogging and sprinting to spike the heart rate and then rest to really work the heart and lungs.
- Pyramids – Increase speed and/or incline each minute, reach a peak and then decrease each minute until finished.
- Short-speed run – Get in and get out, but get it done. Work on speed. Compete with yourself and try out tabata treadmill training.
- Hike – Walk, but increase the incline back and forth to mimic hills. NordicTrack machines that include the Google Maps feature will automatically do this for you and give you a street view of your route to keep your legs guessing.
These workouts can help get the family moving. To avoid getting stuck in a rut, keep mixing it up so that exercise stays fresh and new.
Team Building And Fun Family Competition
Adding new workouts and rotating the workout schedule helps build interest. To make it fun and to keep the excitement going, compete! Scaling the numbers makes it fair and fun, so instead of Daddy posting a 6-minute mile compared to 12-year-old Suzy’s 14-minute mile, measure percentage improvements of each individual’s personal records. Though, that might favor the kids as they grow, you can handle being beat by your kids, right? If not, you had better train harder.
Alternatively, the family’s goal might not be performance based. It might be healthy weight loss or consistency in working out. Either way, find a goal that works and keep the family motivated to keep moving.
Let the whole family take turns deciding the workouts or sit down with the children and develop individual plans with their input. Ownership of the plan helps people of all ages stick to it and developing good, healthy habits that last a lifetime is the whole point.
Set family goals in addition to individual goals. Charting progress as a family unit makes the improvements visible. Whatever the goals are, write them down so that everyone can see the numbers. You might use a poster board to record total family miles, total family fat percentage or pounds lost, total hours spent working out or whatever the family decides. Build in a reward for each goal achieved, such as a family night at the movies or enjoying a special activity together.
Music Moves The Soul And The Feet
The Army has soldiers sing cadences as they run. Why? Music gets us moving. The pounding left, right, left on a road or treadmill lacks the motivation that a good song provides. Music takes the runner to a different place and distracts them so they don’t think about fatigue or mild muscle soreness. If music doesn’t do the trick, an interesting audiobook or podcast just might. Think of how accomplished you’ll feel while taking care of both body and mind as you run and listen to a self-help book or NPR at the same time. Some families can benefit from listening to the same music or the same books. This creates conversation and more team building, adding to the motivation to step on the treadmill to begin with.
Cardio is a great place to start. A treadmill adds convenience, brevity, fun, and function to the family’s workout plan. However, add more to your family’s overall fitness plan, such as stretching, strength training, water intake, and diet. The first place to go when developing these plans is the family doctor. Your doctor should be able to answer questions about how hard to push, how often to train, and what exercises are appropriate for the range of ages in the household. One thing is certain—it’s time to get moving.