of the Month
to exercise without taking away from your family time is a very
tough thing to do. Finding that balance will always be elusive,
but always looking for ways to improve is key! Credit goes to Daniel
Fick and Stephen Goff. Best of Health. RM
Exercise Into Family Life
S. Fick, MD and Stephen J. Goff, PhD
AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 24 - NO. 2 - FEBRUARY 96
It all works
out so well in fitness magazines. The young executive stops by the
health club after work for a 45-minute workout, not including time
spent getting ready and getting out. She arrives home for dinner
feeling great. Exercise blends into her life with the rhythm of
a well-oiled rowing machine.
But is this
real life for most people, especially parents? You don't read about
a dad having to race home from work to tend to a sick kid, change
a diaper, and help get dinner on the table. Maybe after the grocery
shopping is done and the kids are tucked in, he can combine exercise
and quality time with his wife. They call it the housecleaning workout.
think you have time for it or not, exercise is essential for a healthy
life. Experts for years have said that regular exercise--even moderate
exercise such as walking--will help you improve fitness, lose weight,
and reduce your risk of health problems like heart disease. To reap
these benefits, you need about 30 minutes a day of exercise, several
times a week. If you also count time spent traveling to your club
or gym, dressing, warming up, cooling down, and showering, a workout
can easily consume 60 to 90 minutes of your day.
But if you
plan wisely, help your family understand your exercise philosophy,
and maybe retool the way you view "working out," you can
adopt exercise as just another member of the family.
have a strong family support system and strong commitment to family
in activities other than exercise will experience the least conflict
when trying to exercise amidst a busy family life. Here are a few
tips on making exercise family-friendly. These pointers can also
help avoid disagreements and conflicts about exercise commitments.
No single method will succeed for every family, so choose the options
that make most sense to you.
your exercise goals to your spouse and discuss how they affect
your family. Have a positive attitude about exercising that
encompasses the whole family, and be a mutual source of emotional
support for each other's activities.
family members. Young children may prefer to ride their bicycles
while you walk or jog.
family outings like a hike in a park or skating at the neighborhood
||Buy a baby
jogger and spend time exercising with your youngest. Many children
even fall asleep while in a baby jogger. But leave the dog and
headphones at home.
||Go to a
local track to exercise. Children can play on the infield.
||As a family,
designate responsibilities that must be met before exercising
the way you view exercise. On some days, working out may mean
doing yard work or a "housecleaning workout." Household
chores do, in fact, burn calories and can give health benefits.
Care of Busy-ness
exercise into family life, another approach parents can use is to
optimize the occasional lulls in their schedules. The suggestions
below may help you find the time and energy to exercise on your
own. (The last five tips are from the New York Road Runners Club.)
so that the rest of your life is operating smoothly and all
your other responsibilities are being met.
a routine. Many people rise early to exercise before daily responsibilities
begin. The energy gained from regular exercise may compensate
for any lost sleep. In fact, exercise might even help you sleep
something go. Are there low-priority activities you can stop
doing to make time for your good health?
Walk whenever possible--to and from church, work, the store,
or a friend's home.
when practical. Walking up or down as many as six flights of
stairs is usually faster than waiting and riding, and you will
in exercise on your daily calendar. Schedule exercise just as
you would any other meeting or obligation.
clothing in the trunk of your car. You may be able to walk or
run while waiting to drive family members home from their activities.
Also, keep exercise clothing at work. You may be able to work
out at noon or at the end of the workday.
your coworkers. You can accomplish as much walking and talking
as sitting in a meeting room.
jump rope, do step aerobics, or buy a home rowing or cross-country
weights or dumbbells in your desk or closet at work and pump
some iron during breaks.
You know that
exercise is good for you, so make it a part of your daily schedule.
You can successfully balance the demands of exercise with other
responsibilities. When family conflicts arise, work them out together,
allowing everyone's input to help solve problems.
information is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment.
Before starting an exercise program, consult a physician.
Dr. Fick is
an assistant professor of family practice at the University of Iowa
College of Medicine in Iowa City. Dr Goff is an assistant professor
of leisure studies at the University of Iowa.
article is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice
and is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health-care
professionals. Consult your physician before beginning or making
changes in your diet, supplements or exercise program, for diagnosis
and treatment of illness and injuries, and for advice regarding
medications. Thanks. RM