Making Fitness Social

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There are only 24 hours in a day, so how can you add in more time for fitness if those hours are already accounted for? The Lark DPP Mission, “Find Time for Fitness,” is all about solving this possible problem, and the recent check-in brought up the possibility of dovetailing social engagements with fitness. That can save time and make fitness more fun. Here are some ways to do that.

 

Be healthy with your friends.


Did you know that your friends are great predictors of your weight? Maybe you can all work on getting fit together! There may be ways you can incorporate activity into your usual meet-ups with friends. You could walk or go to the gym together before meeting for coffee, or sign up for a group fitness class or sports league with practices or games scheduled on your regular friends-out nights.

 

Make fitness a family thing.


Don’t you want the best for you and for your family? While you are getting fitter, why not increase the amount of quality time you spend with them and help them get fitter at the same time? This can work for families of all sizes and any ages of children (or none). Just keep it age-appropriate and fun. These are some examples.

  • Join in. What children really want is you. This is true for toddlers through older children, even if it does not seem like it. Do whatever they are doing, and let them shine as they give you a great workout, whether playing hide-and-seek or basketball.

  • Let them shine. Ask your children to teach you whatever dance or dribbling skill they learned in preschool, school, or an extracurricular activity.

  • Include them. Children may want to mimic you or be treated as adults, so give them direction in your workout. Lead a “bootcamp” sort of workout that gives them plenty of fun options to rest or be active while you get in your own workout.

 

Use your baby as a weight. 


Really. According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), lifting small children counts towards your goals for resistance training. Getting through the day with a small child is a good start, as anyone can tell you who has sore arms, back, and legs after a day of changing diapers, giving baths, and feeding children. 

You can sneak in additional exercises throughout the day. Get into the habit of doing calf raises at the changing table, squats between bites while feeding, and lunges while pushing the baby on the swing at the park, for example. Lift your baby over your head an extra 5 to 10 times each time you pick her up. 

 

Go on a fitness date.


Dinner and a movie are nice, but would you not prefer a life mate who wants you to be at your healthiest, wants to be at his healthiest, and wants to get there together? Try something active together before your romantic dinner. A walk is simplest, but when ready, you can bump it up with partner workouts (look around online for ideas), personal training for two, or a fun fitness-oriented class, such as horseback riding or a circus class, where you both get to learn a new skill. 

 

“I don’t have time for a social life.”


Yes, that seems to happen to many people. The typical working parent may be booked from the second her child wakes her up in the morning to the moment she finishes her final email, shuts off the laptop, and goes to bed. And weekends? Should you find yourself with a spare moment, you are more likely to stay home than commit to driving across town to work on your social skills.

If this is the case, you may consider turning your non-social engagements into active time. Walk around your office while on the phone, or take your call outside for a brisker walk when you know the call will take a while. You may schedule phone meetings for times when you are at the gym or at home on a stationary bike. In the office. 

In the office, let your boss know what your goals are and propose ways you can all get active at work. You could have group walks at lunchtime or make it a policy to allow for meetings to be held while walking whenever possible. You may be surprised how receptive your boss is to these ideas.

Keep working on your friends, family members, and co-workers to help you be active, and you might find that you can get in your 150 minutes per week no matter how busy you are. You may even build stronger relationships along the way. Don’t forget to log your activity in Lark so you know how you are doing and can get feedback and motivation to keep up the good work.

 

Natalie Stein

Exercise, Fitness & Nutrition Expert | Assistant Professor of Public Health