Could that be true? Why on earth would someone with kids have a harder time exercising than their childless peers?
You do detect the sarcasm in my voice, don’t you?
But the front page of the April 11 Minneapolis Star Tribune states what most parents believe is the obvious in the article: “Eat right? Exercise? New parents lag behind peers.”
I couldn’t help but think, “We need a study for that?” But don’t roll your eyes. I think there is long-term value that will come from this study, which was published in the journal Pediatrics. Aside from a few interesting factoids (like women self-report their weight more accurately than men), I think the researchers are on to the same line of thinking that Laurie and I were when we wrote “Hot (Sweaty) Mamas: Five Secrets to Life as a Fit Mom.”
Ultimately, what Laurie and I believe is the bigger picture when it comes to incorporating fitness into an already jam-packed schedule is not necessarily getting back to your pre-baby weight, which is the focus of most other fitness books for new moms. I’m not dismissing the notion that we all want to look good in our favorite jeans or, for those who so desire (and I don’t, to spare you my twin skin), wear a bikini again. Of course we want to look good. And of course we’ve bought into the notion that exercising will help us stay around to enjoy our kids longer (and apparently we are not happy as parents until we get older, so we damn well ought to be healthy when we get there). Still, it’s something more, something that moves exercise out of the “me time” category and into the “parenting” category, because when we find a way to workout, with or without our children, we become a role model for them. The bigger picture then can get even bigger when the kids have a chance to escape this scourge of childhood obesity and grow up to be fit too, and then pass it on to their kids and start reversing the trend of chronic illnesses caused by excessive weight. Imagine how that might effect out-of-control healthcare costs. It sounds as if I think physical exercise can change the world. I suppose I do. But now we have a study that backs this up:
Understanding parents’ health behaviors during this new phase of life is important because positive, as well as negative, health habits may become ingrained and perpetuated into later adulthood, and may be transmitted to children.
The thing about having kids who are raised in a home where fitness is a family value is that they never have to “start” an exercise program. Let’s face it, getting started is the hardest part, right? I consider that a gift for my children: growing up with exercise being an integral part of the way they live. And if they choose later in life to be couch potatoes I promise to bite my tongue. I hope, even at that ripe old age, I’ll be able to take out my aggression on a long sweaty run, a fierce kick boxing class or out on the tennis courts. Ideally I’ll be able to do all three and still have the energy to play with and pass the legacy of fitness on to my grandchildren.