Hey there, parents! Let's talk about the elephant in the room - parenting can be tough! From endless laundry to sleepless nights, it's a full-time job that requires a lot of energy and patience. And let's face it, sometimes we just don't have enough of either. Sometimes we don't show up the way we want for anyone in the family, we can be irratable, selfish, and disconnected. In the modern society we live in we are overworked and over connected to things that pull us away from being fully engaged parents. There are even times we barely have enough energy to fully engage with our significant other after putting the kids to bed and deactivating parent mode. We spending part of the night arguing over what to watch, only to spend the first 30 minutes of our "movie night" on our phones, not really watching whatever it was we finally chose.
But fear not, my friends, there is a solution to help us improve our parenting abilities, (and those “movie nights” being more like the dating moving night where we didn’t watch the first 30 minutes either but for much different reasons) - taking care of our health and fitness! Now, I know what you're thinking, "Who has time for exercise when we have kids running around all day, and a full time job texting or calling all day" But trust me, it's worth making the time for.
Research has shown that engaging in regular exercise has numerous benefits for both our physical and mental health. In fact, a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies by Huai et al. (2017) found that regular exercise reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. By keeping ourselves healthy, we enhance our overall well-being and energy levels, allowing us to be more actively involved in our children's lives. Plus, who doesn't want to keep up with their little ones and avoid huffing and puffing after just a few minutes of playtime?
But the benefits don't stop there, parents. Research, such as the systematic review conducted by Jago et al. (2008), suggests that parents who prioritize and engage in regular exercise serve as positive role models for their children. When our children see us actively participating in physical activity, they're more likely to adopt active lifestyles themselves. This can contribute to better overall health and long-term fitness habits in our little ones. It also reinforces that taking care of oneself isn’t selfish or shallow but an important part of the process of being a healthy and successful adult.
But wait, there's more! ( Thanks Billy Mays) Exercise has also been linked to improved cognitive function and mental well-being in adults. A narrative review by Gligoroska et al. (2019) highlights the positive effects of exercise on cognitive function. By enhancing our memory, attention, and problem-solving skills, we can positively impact our parenting abilities. Just imagine being more focused, attentive, and responsive to our children's needs - it's a superpower every parent needs! Especially when it comes to helping with that math homework!
And let's not forget about the stress-busting benefits of exercise. Parenting can be demanding and stressful at times. It’s the most rewarding and most stressful gig you’ll ever have, but there are a few ways to reduce the stressful toll and make it more of the rewarding side. Research, such as the review by Schuch et al. (2016), shows that exercise is a powerful stress management tool. By reducing our stress levels and improving our mood, we can create a more positive parenting environment and enhance emotional well-being for both ourselves and our children. It's like giving ourselves a daily dose of sunshine and rainbows!
But perhaps the most significant benefit of all is the opportunity to strengthen the bond between parents and children. Engaging in physical activities together, such as family outings, sports, or outdoor play, can provide unforgettable moments of joy, laughter, and connection. Research conducted by Rhodes et al. (2019) supports the idea that shared physical activities foster a stronger parent-child bond, contributing to healthy emotional development and overall well-being in children. Plus, it's a chance for us parents to unleash our inner kids and show off our amazing dance moves!
And last but not least, exercise can indirectly improve our parenting skills by promoting self-regulation, discipline, and perseverance. A study by Duckworth et al. (2011) emphasizes the importance of self-regulation for sustained health behaviors. By engaging in regular physical activity, we cultivate a sense of self-efficacy, confidence, and resilience - qualities that are crucial for effective parenting practices and problem-solving. We become parenting superheroes ready to tackle any challenge that comes our way!
So, parents, let's take care of ourselves so that we can take better care of our children. Let's make exercise a priority and reap the benefits of improved physical and mental health, and play a positive role in children's life!