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Take Your Daughter or Son to Work (Out) Day

By Michelle May, M.D.

They have a “Take Your Daughter or Son to Work Day” – a day for exposing our children to the work we do every day. Nice idea but what about another day for exposing our children to the importance of being physically active? We could call it Take Your Daughter or Son to Work Out Day!

When our children are small, they instinctively play and explore their environment. If they overhear their parents say, “I was bad last night so I need to go the gym,” they’ll associate exercise with punishment and unlearn their natural tendency to move. By intentionally creating positive associations with physical activity, we set a strong foundation for a lifetime of fitness.

Isn’t keeping our children healthy one of our most important jobs?

If it were easy everyone would do itWhen my daughter Elyse was 14, we signed up for Bootcamp at our local YMCA. Their motto was, “If it were easy everyone would do it!” I’m not a militant exerciser so it was counter-intuitve at first. However, I don’t love being inside of a gym or hooked up to exercise machines so it seemed like a great way to get a total body work-out while enjoying the outdoors.

Elyse was really active in the fall with marching band, but she’d be the first on to admit that other than walking to classes and occasionally taking the dog around the block, she became a bit sedentary during the spring.

Believe it or not, Bootcamp was actually fun! There are all ages, fitness levels, and skills, but we all seem to enjoy the challenge and friendly competition. Our team paid a penalty (plank pose) if we were absent or late so the accountability is important (especially for that 5:15 am class!).They pushed us much harder than we would have pushed ourselves and we both discovered that we were capable of more than we would have believed. Most of all, I love spending time with my daughter, building a lifelong love for physical activity, and an appreciation for the capacity of her body to become faster and stronger.

So why not start a Take Your Daughter or Son to Work Out Day in your family? Here are a few ideas to get your started:

  • Walk the dog
  • Ride bikes
  • Go fly a kite
  • Practice soccer drills
  • Play catch
  • Set up a backyard or living room obstacle course
  • Take a fitness class together
  • Swim
  • Train for a fund-raising 5K or other event
  • Challenge your family to a Wii Sports Olympics

Whatever you choose, keep exercise positive and fun so your children will still love it when they grow up. And, just maybe, you’ll enjoy it more too!

We’d love to hear how you keep your family active – please post your comments below.

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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