The benefits of exercising as a family in lockdown

The benefits of exercising as a family in lockdown

09/06/2021

Every morning Finn and Jude Adams are not only allowed to kick and punch, their mother encourages it.

Lina Adams, 37, calls time from home learning just before lunch every day to marshall her sons Finn, 8, and Jude, 4, into the lounge room for some intense 10-minute exercise.

Melbourne-based Lina Adams fits in a daily 10-minute fitness break with her sons Finn and Jude.Credit:Eddie Jim

“We do squats, star jumps, (air) kicking, punching and my boys really engage because 10 minutes is just the right amount of time for them,” Adams says of the workout they follow on the Healthy Mummy app which she casts onto her TV.

“I’m so happy that we can fit this into our day because it’s fun for them. They watch other kids on the screen doing the same thing, not only adults and it’s a great way to keep them active during the day, especially if it’s raining.”

At school Finn used to run around the school basketball court with his classmates every morning and Jude used to either exercise at kindergarten twice a week or join his mother on 3km walks around the neighbourhood.

In lockdown though, Adams prefers to keep them either in the back garden of their Mitcham home or indoors.

“It seems they like to copy me and work out with me so I’m very happy for us to exercise together in a way that is easy and convenient,” she says.

“Afterwards they are more calm and happy to quietly play some Lego or read their books.”

The benefits of exercising together as a family isn’t just motivating for the children.

Deakin University research fellow for physical activity and nutrition Lauren Arundell says family exercise can be a good chance to communicate and bond which benefits parents as well as children.

“We know there’s a lot of research that if you’re trying to change behaviour, if you have the entire family on board those changes are more likely to succeed and to be permanent,” Dr Arundell says.

“When you’re all out on a ride or walk together you’re more likely to bond, build conversations and develop a shared interest which you can talk about later.

“This time is an opportunity to make some healthy habits and set the groundwork to continue once the restrictions ease, so you create an expectation that every day you’re making it a priority to be out there moving together.”

Dr Arundell says the benefits of physical activity to children range from the obvious – improved muscle and bone strength and cardiovascular health – to diabetes prevention, stress reduction and improved self-esteem.

VicHealth spokesperson Melanie Fineberg says when parents are active, children are more likely to also exercise and make it a lifelong habit.

“It makes it easier if everyone is going out for exercise for it not to be a chore but something to enjoy together,” Fineberg says.

“This is a really nice time to find out what works for your family and experiment. It doesn’t have to be traditional sport. It can be a walk, an 80s disco or a Bollywood dance video. Our advice is to not focus on the physical activity or goal of weight loss. It’s about having fun together and focus more on how you feel. The irony is that then you’re also more likely to hit those goals, lose weight and get stress release.”

The VicHealth website thisgirl.com.au features a range of exercise videos for people of any age, ranging in length from five to 30 minutes.

“Parents and kids can have so much fun doing yoga or pilates or dancing together regardless of your abilities,” she says.

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