Getting the Family Running

by Andrea Boley
(Tampa, FL)

When it comes to keeping the entire family fit, running or jogging has distinct advantages over other forms of exercise. It's cheap, easy, effective, and best of all, fun. Unfortunately, certain members of the family may not be able to spot the allure of running and may need a nudge or two to get started. Fit moms who rely on running to keep their hearts healthy and their figures trim are constantly looking for ways to get the rest of the family involved. It may be a challenge at first, but bringing kids and a reluctant spouse on board the running train probably isn't as hard as you may think.

Even though you may enjoy running on a regular basis, you may not understand all the benefits associated with this activity. A moderate dose of the sort of vigorous exercise running provides has an immediate positive impact on cholesterol levels. It boosts the system's good cholesterol (HDLs) and reduces the amount of bad cholesterol stored in the body. Additionally, running nearly always lowers body fat, decreases triglyceride levels and reduces the risk of high blood pressure and coronary disease. In terms of pure fitness, running significantly improves the heart rate and supplies blood and muscle with greater amounts of oxygen. This, in turn, increases the amount of cardio the body can perform, leading to greater calorie burning, toned muscles and weight loss.

Now that you're inspired to bring your family along on your running expeditions, it's time to figure out exactly how to get it done. Although it's an important point, try to avoid lengthy explanations about why you want to promote healthiness in your family. Most likely, they don't worry about reducing family medical bills or avoiding long-term illness as much as you do. Instead, focus on fun aspects and use the tips below as a guideline if you get stuck for fresh ideas.

Lead by Example

The first step in kindling your family's interest in running is to provide a good example. Get out there as often as possible and show your family how the pros do it! When you return, make sure to express the pleasure and sense of well-being running inspires within you rather than focusing on achy muscles, tired feet or other negative aspects. Also, don't be afraid to boast about your success. Each time you reach a new milestone, brag about it to your family. This alone may stir your spouse's sense of competition and get him into a pair of running shoes.

Resort to Bribery

Just this once, it's okay to bribe your kids, as long as the things you offer aren't unhealthy! Tempt them with fun post-running activities such as a movie, dinner at a favorite restaurant or even a half hour extension of bedtimes. If your children prefer riding their bikes, offer to let them bike alongside you while you're running. If they still won't budge, refuse to take no for an answer and work on negotiating them into your way of thinking.

Let Nature be Your Guide

Despite even the most aggressive best efforts, some members of the family may still resist you. When this happens, offer to change up the landscape a little. If you live in the city, suggest a drive out to the country where you all can run surrounded by nature's beauty. Once there, challenge them to footraces or play family games that include running. Softball, kickball and Red Rover are fun ways to get your kids' feet moving in the wide open spaces wilderness can provide.

Promote Friendly Competition

Large families with three or more children often experience more than a fair share of sibling rivalry. Use this to your advantage by promoting a friendly sense of competition between your kids. Teach them how to track their mileage or time how long it takes them to jog to the other side of a field. They'll likely warm up to the activity as they reach new milestones and take turns besting each other. This approach can also work with a reluctant spouse as well.

When you aim for and achieve health and fitness together as a family, you will all enjoy positive ripple effects that last a lifetime.

Andrea Boley is a writer, mom and runner. She is always happy to share her passion for life and experiences through her work, and in her spare time works as a freelance writer for Storkie.

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