Getting in shape with your family is a fantastic journey that can help each of you enjoy healthier, freer, and more active lives while also helping you bond as a family. Along the way, though, there is always a risk of a workout injury. A little care and planning are all it takes to keep that risk low, so follow these tips from our family fitness pros.
Build Up Gradually
If you just set a new fitness goal for yourself, it’s easy to be so motivated that you just get up, go out, and push hard toward your goal. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for an injury.
Your body needs you to gradually increase your activity. Never ran before and feel like you can go out and run three miles? That’s great, but start with one mile and work your way up to three over the coming weeks. You often don’t realize you’ve overworked an area until after your workout, so don’t assume that you can just keep going until your body starts to yell at you to stop.
Start Workout Sessions with Dynamic Stretching
Stretching before a workout is important, but recent research is indicating that instead of the old stretch-and-hold stretches, it’s better to do dynamic stretching instead. Dynamic stretching involves doing similar movements to the movements you’ll be doing in your workout but doing them as isolated and less intense movements. If you’ll be doing upper body weightlifting, for example, start out with windmill movements for your arms. This warms and loosens up your muscles properly.
Set a Precedent for Modifications
Everyone in your family is at a different fitness level. Honestly, each person’s ability level may be different each day depending on how tired their muscles are. That’s why, when you’re working out as a family or when your family is working out with a larger group, it’s important to teach your kids to modify exercises so that it’s appropriate to their level. Show them how to modify certain moves to be easier or more challenging, and teach them to listen to their bodies, not their egos, in deciding what an appropriate difficulty level is for them each day.
Start a Family Workout Journal
A lot of injuries sneak up on you gradually, starting as a mild and occasional twinge and building up to serious pain because of overuse. That’s why it can help to teach your family members to keep a workout journal. Each person should write an entry about each workout, including what they did, how it felt, what struggles they faced, and any pain they felt. This can help them spot patterns that an injury could be building, signaling that they need to scale back.
Working Out Smart in Family Fitness
There is some messaging in the fitness world that encourage you to push your body to its limits and keep pushing. As important as it is to challenge yourself, that extreme mindset isn’t healthy and it’s sure to lead to an injury sooner or later. As a parent, you can help your kids work out both productively and safely with the tips above. For more family fitness tips, learn more about our Mommy and Me fitness program, or follow us on Instagram for Fit Tip Fridays and more!