How To Get Your Kids To Exercise


It hit me today when I got home from my early morning trail run just as my kids were stumbling down the stairs, still puffy-faced from sleep, and I gave them each a big sweaty and stinky hug. By now, they are used to this routine, trying to wiggle free from my post-run grasp. Before my youngest will give me a hug, she usually asks "are you stinky?" and the answer is usually yes and I make her hug me anyway.

I'm glad that my kids see me like this nearly every morning, usually with a big post-run euphoric smile on my face. They always ask how my run went, and my daughter has taken to bragging during the recess "my dad is tougher than your dad" competitions, telling her classmates that her dad is running 100 miles with a broken shoulder (it's not broken, but whatever). She usually wins these contests, and while I don't like the lack of humility, I can't help but feel happy that she is proud of her dad. I'm not sure how long that will last, so I'll take it while I can.

We don't pressure our kids to be active, it's just how they are. We take hikes together on weekends and I bike with my older kids during the week and it's not really exercise for them, it's just something they do. They're not perfect, they probably watch too much TV and my son plays video games, but they still love to get outside and play nearly every day. It reminds me of the parenting chapter in Freakonomics. The book showed that there was a correlation between high test scores and parents who had a lot of books in the house (this is from memory, so don't quote me). It didn't even matter if the parents read the books to the kids, just having books in the house correlated to kids who scored higher on tests. So, maybe that's the answer to having healthy kids. Maybe it's the parent's problem and if more Americans would turn off the TV, wipe off their Cheetos fingers, get off their fat asses and tried to be active, their kids would follow their example. I'm sure it would be more effective than yelling at the kids from the couch to go out and get some  exercise, or forcing them to diet or follow some regimented exercise program.

My wife did a nice job of decorating our entryway, but I added a couple things.

We just finished up another session of Girls on the Run. I was so proud of the girls this session. There were a couple of the girls who weren't able to run 50 yards without stopping at the beginning of the program, and by the end of the program, every girl was able to complete the 5K race without stopping. The best part of the whole program is watching the girls progress and see their pride at the end of the race. Running the 5K was a huge accomplishment for most of these girls and I was just so proud of all of them. Watching the girls progress made me realize that it's not that hard, but kids need an example and just a little motivation. So, I'll continue to leave my running shoes all over the place, give my kids post-run sweaty hugs, take them hiking, and arrange our vacations around the outside. I hope they are getting the message.

My girls

The running has been going well. I'll probably hit 130 for the last two weeks with about 18,000 feet of climbing. These aren't crazy numbers. Some do this in a week, but for me, this is possibly my strongest two week running stretch ever. I don't feel like I could do much more without sacrificing work or family time. I feel like I'm right at the edge of breaking down and getting sick, but I think that's a good place to be with the 100 coming up in a little over 2 weeks. However, I am looking forward to backing off the mileage and tapering the next couple weeks. 

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