6 tips for encouraging exercise in the family

We’re continually made aware of the benefits of exercise. But, just knowing why we ought to stay fit doesn’t necessarily make it easier to do. Especially if you’re less inclined towards sport, which can be true for anyone, young or old.

Blue bike helmetTrying to encourage your son or daughter (or any young person) who isn’t keen on the idea of exercise can be a challenge, particularly as the evenings set in.

Added to this, the study schedules are probably starting to mount up, and these are meant to be a priority aren’t they? But encouraging exercise is just as important for the family, not least because it aids concentration and study.

So, we’ve put together a few pointers to help out a little.

1. It doesn’t have to be painful

Exercise is really just about moving. Beyond that it can be pretty much anything you want – it doesn’t have to mean laps of a field or contact sports.

The key is to choose something which could be fun, which will be something different for everyone. If it’s enjoyable it’ll be much easier to try and to keep it up.

2. Plan

Setting goals can help with motivation. Having smaller ‘steps’ to aim for and working towards overall achievement makes everything seem more manageable.

Draw up a plan together, maybe letting your son/daughter take the lead.

3. A little is better than a lot

Shorter, more frequent exercising is more beneficial than one exhausting session every now and then. Find a balance, so it’s challenging but not too difficult.

Frequent, manageable exercise will build fitness more quickly. For example, a daily, brisk, 30 minute walk mightn’t seem a lot, but can do wonders.

There can be other benefits too. For instance, regularly walking with your son or daughter might open up conversations that might not happen otherwise.

4. A bicycle made for two

OK, a tandem might not be the way to approach things. But, the reality is that for many of us, sport and fitness is easier to maintain if we’re doing it with others.

Encourage your son/daughter to join a group activity or start something with friends. If they feel committed to exercising with others, it’ll be easier to stick to the routine.

5. Focus on the activity, not the outcome

Not enjoying exercise can be about not feeling good enough, or worrying about looking foolish while you do it.

Rather than focusing on the outcome, (losing weight, winning medals etc.) being mindful of enjoying the activity for its own sake can be useful.

6. Lead by example

Last, but not least, it’ll be much easier to encourage your son or daughter to exercise if you’re working on your own fitness.  Modelling this behaviour and making time for it in your busy schedule will encourage younger family members to make it part of their routine.

As with any behaviour (healthy eating or sleeping patterns for instance) being in an environment where it’s the norm will make it much easier for young people to integrate it into their life.

It sure is the #littlethings

Today the HSE has launched a new website yourmentalhealth.ie. The website hosts things you can do to look after your mental health.

8 hours sleepIt also details different services available around the country when that extra bit of help is needed for you or someone in your family.

They have also launched a national campaign #littlethings. Creating an environment where people share the little things they do to look after their mental health.

Positive impact

We all experience life’s storms. The day-to-day dips that are an ordinary, everyday part of life. This campaign is about encouraging people to do things for themselves and others that will have a positive impact on how they feel and cope.

So, what are the little things?

These are acts of self-care, proven to help us feel better and get through tough times. Find out what works for you and discuss with your family what works. Make sure you all keep doing it!

Modelling positive mental health as a parent is one of the best things we can do to encourage a good sense of wellbeing and resilience in young people. Looking after your own mental health is a crucial part of this.

There’s a Facebook page and Twitter account to help people share their #littlethings:

Share what your little things are by using #littlethings.

When “turning the other cheek” isn’t enough

It has been a theory for some time, when faced with bullying behaviour we should “turn the other cheek”, ignore it and walk away. We were told it, and sometimes we tell our children the same.

bullying - courtesy independent.ieWell, these strategies don’t work according to Jennifer Ryan, forensic psychologist, founder of My Life Solutions and one of the clinical advisors to this site.

What can young people do?

So what can we do, and what can we tell our children to do when faced with bullying behaviour?

When dealing with bullying, Jennifer teaches skills to equalise the power balance by helping the target stand his or her ground and maintain eye contact.

Jennifer was interviewed by Independent.ie for “Expert tips to help your little one beat the schoolyard bullies”. Find out more about what you can do if your son or daughter is being bullied.

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.
Sign up for our newsletter