I dreamed of walking around Lake Harriet with my daughter before I even had a daughter. I adore the Minneapolis city lakes (so much so that I’d like to have my ashes scattered there when I die, but that’s another blog) and have found incredible peace  and beauty on and around them. I looked forward to sharing that with my own child(ren).

Although I haven’t been able to find research on the subject, I’ve made some observations on my own about the impact of parents and children exercising together.  I believe that it greatly improves the health of both children and their parents.

The kids I grew up with who were active with their parents tended to be healthy and fit. They also tended to have solid relationships with their parents. That has held true into adulthood. Those same kids have remained close to their parents and for the most part are still healthy and fit. Some of them still run, walk and take classes with their parents.

Not only does exercising with our kids provide a healthy example for them, it provides wonderful time and space for connecting and sharing life lessons.

According to Dr. Ron Eaker, M.D. OB-GYN, author of Fat-Proof Your Family,  “Exercising with children reprograms kids to understand what is normal and what is not. Kids today believe that a sedentary lifestyle is normal. Studies show that most kids spend an average of 6 hours after school doing sedentary things like TV, computers, and video games. They have a skewed perception of ‘normal.’”

“But exercising with them ingrains a new standard of what is normal,” Dr. Eaker continues. “It establishes an environment of exercise by teaching them ‘this is what adults do.’ Exercising together gives them a sense of ownership and participation in adult activities.”

The concept of parents and children exercising together has even earned a day on the calendar. PACES (Parents and Children Exercising Simultaneously) Day is officially recognized on the first Saturday of May. According to the PACES web site, “Parents play a key role in the growth and development of their children. They are also the most influential role models in their children’s lives. Not only will families sign up to exercise together on PACES Day, but they are now committing to exercise every Saturday as a family… This is the motivational tool for the children. PACES Day is meant to kick start an exercise session with the family.”

One of the challenges I’ve encountered as a parent is finding activities that are fun and challenging for both adult and child. Grace and I ran our first 5k together last Thanksgiving, and walking and biking are good options. We also spend time in the backyard shooting hoops and jumping on the  trampoline.

We’ve also always enjoyed practicing yoga together, but there has been a bit of a gap in yoga offerings for kids her age and older. Most of the family yoga classes or “Mommy and Me” classes are aimed at kids much younger than Grace (she’s 9). The last one we attended didn’t even involve poses. Instead the kids ran around the studio with scarves and Grace thought it terribly “babyish.”

Thus, I’m really looking forward to teaching Mother/Daughter Yoga Friday evenings at Moe Bodyworks. First Fridays of each month from 7-8 pm are for girls ages 8-18 and their moms (or aunts, grandmas, neighbors, etc) and second Fridays of each month from 6:30-7:30 pm are for girls ages 4-10. Moe Bodyworks is located at 3541 Lyndale Ave S in South Minneapolis. Adults pay regular class price, girls are free. For more information on yoga packages and directions, please visit http://www.moebodyworks.com.

Hopefully these classes will provide another opportunity for your family to be active together–to build your bodies as well as relationship bonds that will last a lifetime.

Be well with your kids!