Dr. Peter Rawlek is an emergency room physician and CEO of health empowerment company GoGetFit.
The connection our youth today have with physical activity is at a breaking point. Lifestyle-related diseases have exploded in recent decades as our society shifted en masse to a more sedentary culture. And it all starts with our children and the habits they learn as they grow up.
Exercising with Your Family
The revolution of visual media in a box (television watching), evolving from radio (listening) and print information (reading) was, unbeknownst to us, the first harbinger of things to come, namely lifestyle-related disease. It wasn’t too long after that we, as a healthcare community, had our first taste of the consequences.
Childhood obesity on an epidemic scale, early-onset diabetes, early adulthood hypertension, heart attacks – the list goes on – all point back to a pivotal change: the increasing habit of sitting on our backsides and “watching” the world on a screen rather than actively and physically experiencing the world. When this started a good half century ago, we had no idea the impact would be this severe.
The habits we form during childhood, the lifestyles we adopt in our youth, often stick with us for life. What used to be the domain of physical activity, adventure games with friends, or playing tag, is now fully entrenched in addictive entertainment that chains young, impressionable human behaviour to screens.
Instead of using their imaginations outside, many of our children are pulled into a digital world where they trade their irreplaceable time for a deep dopamine loop of satisfaction…. What happened?
Our children need to trust that, what we as parents place in their hands, will create neither addiction nor disastrous health outcomes in the coming decades. We want our kids to have clean drinking water and stay away from alcohol, not only to preserve their current health, but also to protect their development and keep them from hard health manifestations in the future.
But, what if placing an addictive device in their hands has equally as devastating consequences? That new smartphone might just be a young adult’s handshake with the manifestations of lifestyle-related disease.
Empowering the Next Generation
So, what do we do? We have guidelines to strive for to maintain personal health and we need to organize a life of being physically active to meet them. This is the single tool for our children, your children, that has a clear correlation with protecting them from a life of premature metabolic diseases, such as obesity.
But it goes beyond dropping them off at organized, scheduled, adult-structured physical activities. Sure, this is exercise. Yet it does nothing to empower youth to take their health into their own hands.
When high schoolers take gym class for the last time and stop being active, it isn’t because they don’t know how to play sports. It’s because they lack the self-efficacy to build movement into their days.
Being active with your children has benefits for you and for them.. Yes, you too! It’s as easy as taking a “break” to pick up a ball, put shoes on your feet and go for a walk, jump on a bike, or explore the woods… you get my jest?
The best part? It only has to be twice on the weekend and once during the week. On the other days just organize a gaggle of their friends and throw them outside.
We all had our parents do that when we were younger… “Get outside. Get out of the house. Unless you are bleeding, I do not want to see you until the next meal.” It’s our duty to pass this on to the next generation.
Let’s talk benefits:
First, for little “Johnny” or “Jenny”:
- Spending time with you, their parent.
- Role modelling.
- Lower levels of disease.
- Higher likelihood of establishing life-long habits.
- How would you like your children raise your grandchildren? “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”
- Learning: developing youthful eye-to-eye collaboration and resolving things like disagreements where one does not just shut off the screen. For human growth this is key, especially without adults refereeing all the time. That is healthy. That is development.
Second, for you:
- Activity for you.
- Time to smile a little with your child.
- Opportunity to chat and learn more about a child/teenager that doesn’t happen otherwise. It is just too busy of a world.
- Teaching your future caregivers about health and the world.
Exercise doesn’t have to be expensive:
- Riding bikes
- Playing at the park
- Creating an obstacle course in the back yard
- Creating fitness videos, where your family are the stars
- Selecting exercises to do during commercials when watching a family show
One of the main ideas behind GoGetFit is empowering people to get active, not just for themselves but for the people around them. We’re all here to join a movement – Your Movement – and build the habits long, healthy lives.
You can add years to your life by adding life to your years.
GoGetFit and EWI Works are proud partners in the wellness technology space.
EWI Works offers many services that can improve your quality of life. We have developed several cost-effective remote services to help you transition to remote work. Find out more about our Online Training, Services, and Resources.