This article is about exercise and how you can achieve the best health you possibly can for you and your family.
Family exercise is underrated as a method of improving your health, enjoying quality time together and creating rewarding experiences.
Exercise, is arguably one of the most important aspects of health.
It creates strong bonds, it provides you with many health benefits, it can create a great story, like the one how you could’ve represented your country at footy, netball (insert sport) but had an injury.
But more importantly, it can quite literally change your life.
The Warm Up
Right this moment, adults and youth are becoming statistically more inactive, decreasing in muscular strength and are becoming more body conscious on average, every single generation. I have written more about it in this article about paediatric dynapenia.
A lack of regular exercise is causing an increase in musculoskeletal injuries later in life, increases in preventable diseases and mental health issues. We need to ensure this trend does not continue!
Between the years 1980 and 2006, a longitudinal study of boys and girls aged 9-12 had decreases of 42-57% and 33-60% in their strength, respectively. This was both upper and lower body strength! If this doesn’t give you an indication that what we are doing at the moment is simple not working, then I don’t know what will!
As an exercise scientist that studied at University for 5 and a half years, has trained international level athletes in 3 different countries. including one Olympic silver medallist, it is my strongest area of expertise. I’ve watched the trends and the marketing tools that have been constantly changing over the years to confuse and scam people all over the world to make you believe that you are doing something wrong and that their method is best.
You may have seen them before;
“BEST EXERCISES TO BURN BELLY FAT”, “YOU’RE DOING THIS WRONG”, “FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT EXERCISE”…
It leaves us confused, questioning our methods and wondering if what we have learnt after all those years were in fact, wrong. But there is a good saying that I like to use in this situation “when you hear hooves, think horses, not zebras”.
If you want to learn how to create the best program for your family to help you achieve your health goals and help the kids be strong, healthy and confident individuals, then read on…
Why You Need It
Essentially, it can improve your mental, emotional and physical health.
Regular exercise can;
- Reduce the risk of preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
- Maintain blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Prevent weight gain and aid weight loss
- Maintain strong muscles and bones
- Create opportunities to socialise and enjoy quality time together.
- Develop physical and mental wellbeing.
Guidelines for Adults
We should always aim to be active, every single day. It shouldn’t be the same every day, we should always be aiming to mix it up.
But we should have a plan, one that looks to improve us over time with simple principles that I will address later in this article.
The recommendations for weekly exercise according to the Australian Department of Health is;
- 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week – this includes light activities like gardening, walking, swimming, palying golf etc. – it’s enough to break a little sweat but not enough to be heavy breathing.
- 80 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity physical activity – this includes running, team sports, gym classes, chasing a kid around that’s full of sugar etc. – this is when you start to breath heavily. I like to think of it as if someone was to ask you a question, you would be able to answer it but it would be broken conversation between breaths.
Principles of training
“Methods are many, principles are few. Methods may change, principles never do
This is one of the most overlooked principles in training and it’s the most basic. Progressive overload is plain and simple, progressively getting better. You can do this several ways, work harder, work longer, work better.
Mix it up! Keep it interesting and change things over time. It will allow for new stimulus for different physiological adaptations for the body and also to keep exercise fresh and exciting for the psychological side.
If we practice the same thing over and over again, we will eventually plateau. That’s why if you were given an exercise program one year ago and continue to do it every time you go to the gym, you will not get better because there is no change in stimulus.
Want to improve at something specific? Practice doing it. If you want to get better at lifting heavy weight? Lift heavy weight. Want to run a marathon? Run often and for long distances! Want to get better at kicking a ball? You tell me.
If you like training HARD every day, you can forget about improvement and think all about burnout. According to Selye’s Principle of Stress, you need rest to allow recovery for your muscles. This is particularly important for kids who are playing sport EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. It is just going to cause burnout over time. It’s incredibly beneficial for your kids to play multiple different sports but not to train like your life depends on it every day!
Allow recovery, teach them to listen to their body. At Full Tribe Fitness, we implement a ‘RED, YELLOW, GREEN, GO!’™ strategy to understand how the body is responding and to become more body aware.
If you don’t use it, you lose it. The opposite of progressing. As a general rule, you lose your gains at a rate of one-third as when you gained them. So taking a few days off won’t kill you but taking too much time off will really negate all the hard work you’ve done. If you’re strapped for time, doing one set of an exercise is enough to maintain your strength levels for a short time. All the more reason to just get it done!
How Do You Implement It
You have all the information you will need to get moving, so how do you implement it? That is all down to the individual and the family.
Here are a few tips to get you moving;
- Schedule it in – just like your kids’ sport, it is scheduled into your diary. You can either train during that time to ‘catch two birds with one scone’ OR make it a ‘compulsory’ session for you to do.
- Set a goal – define what you want to get better at, use the principles above of specificity to understand what modality of training you want to do. When you understand the goal, you can set a direction.
- Make it fun – training doesn’t have to be super sweaty and hot sessions in an underground gym, you can achieve many of the same goals by playing tips or riding a bike. However, you MUST be interested in what you are doing!
- Have a plan – if you want to seriously improve your health and your family’s, having a plan from a trained professional is going to give you the direction and specific improvement you need.
The Cool Down
Exercise is needed by all. Without a doubt if we don’t take personal responsibility for the actions we make, we will inevitably continue the course we are going and cause major issues in the future. DO NOT WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT FOR YOU!
Until next time,
Kasper, K. (2019). Sports Training Principles. Curr Sports Med Rep, 18(4), 95-96. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000576; https://journals.lww.com/
Laurson, K. R., Saint-Maurice, P. F., Welk, G. J., & Eisenmann, J. C. (2017). Reference Curves for Field Tests of Musculoskeletal Fitness in U.S. Children and Adolescents: The 2012 NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey. J Strength Cond Res, 31(8), 2075-2082. doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000001678; https://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2017/08000/Reference_Curves_for_Field_Tests_of.4.aspx
Australian Government Guidelines for Physical Activity; https://www.health.gov.au/