Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Dog Walk

Today at a Coffee Talk about "Fit Family" I was asked for ideas on how to fit in some quick exercise for kids at the end of a school day. I suggested dancing around the house with good music, which is a great workout (just try it), and also incorporating a short bike ride or walk into some errands downtown. 

This afternoon, I realized what I forgot to mention earlier -- the dog walk. Now, I happen to know that the person who asked the question does not have a dog, so she'll have to find a reason to get the kids outdoors. My mother always said that I needed to get "fresh air" and that wasn't all that enticing.

So here's how our "dog walk" works:

At about 3:30 p.m. my kids are at each other. One has just returned home from school and is full of energy, but a little tired, and the other is just waking from a nap (hopefully). The girls are pushing or purposefully taking the other person's toys or snack and I become the mediator. So I say, "It's time to walk Abby (our dog)."

The girls know this is the routine and get shoes on and to the door more quickly than usual. I leash Abby until we get across the street, where she can roam free. When we hit the field, the girls go crazy. They want to jump, run, play tag, do ring-around-the-rosey. Then we do a little hike through the woods and run down the hill. 

Today, we saw a worm, a really long one, and the girls inspected it, quickly picked it up, and placed it back in the grass gently at my request. They were fascinated and had to tell Daddy all about the worm later. Okay, so this part isn't exercise, but it is part of the process of getting outdoors, inspecting your surroundings, and moving around.

After our "dog walk," which lasted about 30 minutes, we went back to our yard and played hide-and-seek and tag and on the swing for another half hour. 

My point: If you run around, playing with your kids (instead of watching them), you understand why they want to take their sweatshirts off. Your body is working and getting warm. Exercising with kids doesn't have to be fancy or take a long time. And playing makes exercise fun. That was a great point made by another person at today's talk. More on that topic later.

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