Kids at the Gym? Working Out Together Could Be Good for Your Health and Theirs
Playful and energetic kids might be the last thing you want to encounter while getting your sweat on at the gym. Though the idea of bringing kids to a gym may sound crazy, a new trend of parents and children going to the gym together has many families getting in shape in a whole new way.
It is hard to say at what age a child should be allowed in a gym, but some factors to consider are the exercises being performed and the maturity of the child.
Vince McKinnon, wellness manager for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, says young children may be able to perform age-appropriate exercises with the help of a parent.
“Kids and young teenagers can use equipment an adult can use as long as they have been properly instructed on how to do so,” said McKinnon. “It’s imperative they are taught proper fundamentals and form on any exercise they perform.”
Just like adults, children need exercise to stay healthy and active. Before signing them up for another piano lesson or calling the babysitter next time you’re headed in for a workout, keep in mind these six reasons why bringing kids to the gym could be good for your health and theirs!
- Teaching them the importance of fitness. With a rise in childhood obesity, it’s crucial to educate children on the importance of physical activity. Try talking with your child about how staying fit at a young age can lead to a longer, healthier life. Think of ways to make going to the gym more interactive for little ones so they can find their own interest in it. Some gyms offer specific fitness programs for kids. By teaching children the importance of proper exercise, it can help motivate them to do their best during the workout.
- Health benefits for all ages. McKinnon adds that children can experience many of the same positive health benefits that adults get from working out. Studies have shown that physical activity can help regulate blood pressure, reduce the risk of disease, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and also improve confidence. Developing healthy behaviors at a young age makes it more likely kids will continue those habits into adulthood.
- Spend quality time together. With all the activities kids are involved in at school and otherwise, it can be hard to find space in busy schedules to fit in some quality time. Taking your child with you to the gym is a way to schedule one-on-one time while also working on healthy habit development. McKinnon recommends parents can make it fun with a little healthy competition, such as timed running exercises or body weight challenges.
- Developing athletic skills. Taking your child to the gym can teach them the benefits of hard work and dedication. These traits are essential in athletics as well as school. Kids may discover the joy of a new sport while at the gym and come to see being active as fun rather than a burden. By taking kids to the gym you may find they become more motivated about fitness overall.
- Learning basic goal-setting. By going to the gym with a parent, kids can learn how to set goals for themselves and work toward achieving them. The goals can be as simple as completing five push-ups or jogging one mile. You may want to set goals that you can work on achieving together. Setting and completing fitness goals can teach kids that with patience and dedication, anything is possible!
- Boosting self esteem. Research has shown exercise can help boost mood and increase self-esteem. As children begin to build strength or achieve the goals they set, they will gain confidence in other aspects of their life.
Before you lace up your gym shoes, keep in mind that age requirements vary by facility, so it’s important to check your facility’s rules around children.
It’s also important to talk with your child’s doctor before starting a new exercise regimen. If your child is not old enough to visit your gym, there are plenty of other ways to keep kids active this summer. Visit www.ahealthiermichigan.org/mikidscan for some ideas.
Photo Credit: David Mulder (cropped from original)
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