Most people exercise to control their weight and get in better physical condition. What a lot of people don’t realize is that exercise can also help to reduce stress levels. It can release tension, improve concentration, decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol, and increase endorphins (a “feel good” chemical released by our brains).
As a father of four, I see how the stresses of life can impact our children. Children are inundated by the demands of school, homework, sports, family activities, etc. Engaging in physical activities 3-5 times per week for 30 minutes can help them reduce the stress they’ve built up from their busy lifestyle. If your child needs to burn off energy, get off the couch, or take a break from homework, they can get moving and release stress with one of these five exercise “breaks”:
1) Bike riding is a good way to get the body moving, heart pumping, get fresh air into their lungs, and allow your child to take their mind off of their stresses.
2) Have your child do a form of exercise that will that doesn’t require equipment and can be done right in the playroom, bedroom, or living room. Pushups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks will get their blood pumping and help release stress. Feel free to join in and work on your stress levels as well.
3) Take a family walk after dinner. It’s a great way to create quality family time, have a chance to talk and hear about their day while getting some fresh air. Perhaps even take the family dog with you so everyone in the family can get some exercise.
4) For the video gamers, get a video game that incorporates physical activity. I know from personal experience that the dancing games will get them moving and laughing, especially if you join in.
5) Introduce them to yoga. My children absolutely loved it the first time I took them. It can improve their flexibility and concentration levels and help create a calm, meditative state. They will also learn how to make a mind and body connection and be in tune with areas of their body that may be tense so they can release the tension. A lot of yoga studios are now offering classes appropriate for children, so check out your nearest studio and see if there’s a class for them or for the entire family.
No matter what exercise you’re doing, don’t forget to breathe. Proper breathing is essential when doing any type of physical activity as it provides oxygen to the muscles, improves energy, calms the nervous system, and can release tension throughout the body.
Start helping your children today to be more conscious of the importance of physical activity and they will be on their way to less stress, a healthier body, and a happier mindset.
Note: Please consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.