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How Exercise Can Help You Connect With Your Child

How Exercise Can Help You Connect With Your Child

by Owen Campbell, PT, DPT, OCSLeave a Comment

Connection with your child can take many forms over the arc of parenting. From the days of dependency in early life, to watching them become their own person – parents are always searching out ways to connect with their children.

Exercise has many benefits, but most people only think of the physical. The mental health benefits of exercise are also well documented. Most are surprised to find the benefits aren’t just on an individual level through decreased cortisol levels and improved mood. The benefits of group exercise, whether with two people or twenty, are substantial. Examples include your local gym, your kid’s sports teams, and the local mom’s run club.

Exercise can be a great tool to calm an active kid, and one I know I’ve reached for often. Who among us hasn’t accepted an invite to a party solely for the exhausted nap afterwards? When looking for ways to connect with your child, this can sometimes be a dead end. The social demands of a party will likely take priority for both you and your child separately. They get the exercise, but you don’t necessarily get the connection.

The real opportunity to use exercise to connect is in the mundane details of daily life. This will take different forms at different ages. Your toddler will likely be bored with a garage workout, but you can have them ride their tricycle next to you while you run. Or you can bring them on a nature walk and use the diaper bag full of water, toys and snacks as a bonus weighted resistance!

As your child becomes more able to focus on a task, most parents will search out local sports clubs and instructors to see if a spark will be lit. This will help your child stay active, and it will give you the opportunity to be their practice buddy. Learn to dance, figure out how to kick a soccer ball or swing a golf club. Practicing something they love is a great way to connect, and you may find a new sport you love.

Finally, as your child grows older, you can start to share workouts and set joint goals. If you are fortunate enough to live near an adult child, something as basic as a weekly walk or as involved as membership at the same gym can keep you both engaged in a healthy habit. You can even set goals for each other and hold each other accountable. I have patients who set up Father-Daughter 5ks, formed a weekly club-league golf team, or just had a running list of fitness goals that they helped each other achieve.

Exercise is a fun and healthy activity that most of us can participate in at varying levels throughout the lifespan. Meeting your kids where they are is the best way to keep that connection strong, and (importantly for a physical therapist) keep your own blood pressure down.

If pain or injury is holding you or your child back from living an active life or participating in sports or other activities, reach out to your local Athletico to schedule a free assessment. Free Assessments are available in-clinic and virtually through our Telehealth platform.

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*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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Owen Campbell was a physical therapist at Athletico Physical Therapy at the time of this blog.

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