Think about the last activity you did with your child. Odds are, it was sedentary. According to the poll conducted by Landcruisers and the nonprofit Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the top three pursuits that mothers and children engage in together are eating a meal, watching television and doing homework. In fact, only half of the 1,154 moms surveyed had gone for a walk, run or bike ride with their kids (ages 5 to 18) in the last week, and just 26% had played a sport, run around or danced with them. Here's the truth: Finding ways to become more active—even for just 10 minutes a day—can help lower the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes and set you (and your child) up for a lifetime of good-for-you habits. Stephanie Griffin, 41, became a fitness fan and encouraged her family to follow her lead. Read on for this family's motivating tale.
"Five years ago, I left my corporate job to stay at home full-time with my two boys, Britt, now 9, and Brooks, 5. Although I loved being a mom, the transition was difficult. I was struggling to figure out who I was and food became my comfort. I was taking medicine for depression and still carrying the 25 pounds I'd gained during my last pregnancy. My chronic lower back pain—for which I took four over-the-counter painkillers four times a day—was my excuse for not exercising. I was always exhausted and made a full pot of coffee at 4 p.m. just to get through the rest of the day."
"My breaking point came in March 2013. I was in my bedroom, looking at my closet, when I burst into tears. I realized that I'd have to shop for clothes in a larger size. I thought, This is not what my life is supposed to be. I want to be an energetic mom. I want to feel good. I knew that my self-neglect was filtering down to Britt and Brooks. I was rubbing off on them in a bad way because they weren't very active either."
Time for change
"Soon after the closet realization, my friend, a health coach, invited me to join a Facebook group of people who were on a 10-day challenge to exercise and eat healthier. Ten days seemed doable, so I signed up. At 2 p.m. each weekday, I'd pop in a 30- to 60-minute workout DVD and start sweating in my living room. It was tough at first, but I slowly got hooked on how exercise made me feel—the endorphins and the sense of accomplishment. I started cooking healthier meals, too, like grilled fish instead of cheeseburgers. I stuck with my routine after the challenge was over, and gradually, I began to lose weight, my back hurt less and my mood improved."
The ripple effect
"My husband, Chris, noticed the positive changes, so he bought a new pair of running shoes and started jogging three days a week on his lunch break. Britt and Brooks joined my living room workouts when they saw how much fun I was having. (I realized that if I'm having a great time, it feels like a party and the boys want in.) Then they wanted to increase their own exercise: Britt joined a basketball team and a flag football league, and Brooks started going to a program called 'SporTykes'—a sampler of sports for little kids." The Griffins even set up obstacle courses in their backyard in Berkeley Lake, GA.
All together now
"After dinner each night, we all go for a quarter-mile walk around the neighborhood. It feels good to move around after a meal and it helps make activity a set part of the day. On weekends, we go for nature walks at parks, stroll around at festivals or hike a nearby mountain. When we're on vacation, we swap driving tours for walking tours, and I check my Fitbit to share how many steps we've taken."
"I've lost 25 pounds and no longer take depression or back pain medication. My husband's cholesterol numbers are now in a healthy range. The kids are calmer and we all get sick less often. The exercise has strengthened each of us physically, but it's also brought us closer as a family—and helped us realize that we can accomplish anything together."
Join the movement. Visit Commit2Ten.org to pledge that you'll make it a priority to add 10 minutes of activity to your day, and share photos on social media using the hashtag #Commit2Ten.
SOURCES: Jonathan Ross, ACE-certified personal trainer, Annapolis, MD. Kyle Zelazny, personal trainer and owner, Chicago Family Fit, Park Ridge, IL.