“Mens Sana in Corpore Sano” It is general knowledge that a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand. Yet we currently see in increase in childhood anxiety, obesity and low muscle tone, leading us to think- what has changed? Are doctors too quick to diagnose? Or has our lifestyle changed compared to the previous generations and how are we to tackle these challenges? Acrobranch has given us the opportunity to write about making exercise practical today.
Exercise is a key factor that seems to address not only physical but also social and mental issues. Our problem is that we tend to think about exercise like adults do - working out in the gym, running on a treadmill, or lifting weights. These can be time-consuming, boring activities for children, ranking very low on the “fun factor”.
For children, exercise simply means playing and being physically active. Now I also find we sometimes raise well-rounded kids, exercising when they have ball play at school, during recess, at dance class or soccer practice, while riding bikes, or when playing tag. All while one caregiver sits in the car or on the pavilion watching, waiting, while the other sits at their desk in their office. This leads me to another issue that can be addressed with better planning. My next question thus is “How can we use our time together as a family to benefit both the caregivers or parents and the children in terms of physical and mental wellbeing?”
Benefits of Exercise
Everyone can benefit from regular exercise, and I think it’s a great idea to look at some of these benefits.
Physical: Kids and parents who are active will
• have stronger muscles and bones
• have a leaner body and be less likely to become overweight
• decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
• lower blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels
Social and mental benefits: Kids who are active may
• have a better outlook on life
• lower stress and anxiety levels
• socialise better
• have better self-esteem
• do better academically
• sleep better
• handle emotional and physical challenges better
With all these possible benefits of exercise, it is rather obvious that we want to make it a lifestyle rather than an ad hoc experience. The question still remains… “How?”
Address The Five Elements of Fitness
If we understand exercise we can incorporate it better into our daily routine. Exercise does not only mean running for miles or lifting weights, but it should be a combination of five elements. If you have ever watched kids on an Acrobranch obstacle course, you have seen the elements of fitness in action when they:
1. run to be the first in line or when they continuously move between obstacles (cardiovascular)
2. climb the rope net (strength)
3. stretch forward to grab hold of the next obstacle (flexibility)
4. balance on a balance beam or lily pad (balance)
5. move between obstacles with control (core stability)
What I particularly like about this activity it that it is outdoors, so you get a breath of fresh air, views for miles, you avoid screens for a while and Mom and Dad, even Grandparents can join in the fun instead of sitting in the car or at the desk.
Here are 4 ways that we can incorporate exercise into our daily routines:
1. Start your morning with a good core workout – it warms you up, energises your body and sets the mood for the day (I.e Core Stability)
Here is a sample exercise routine to try at home (originally featured in the Things to do With Kids family travel and entertainment Magazine)
2. End your day with a “pyjama drill” and stretch routine - walking around your complex for 20 minutes if security allows and stretching may calm you down before bedtime (I.e Mild cardio + flexibility)
3. Join a Park Run on a Saturday in your area - for many, it is mostly walking, its free and outdoors. (I.e Cardio)
4. Choose FUN, active activities like Acrobranch over weekends for the family as a whole (I.e Full body workout addressing al 5 elements)
Try to implement one routine at a time and let us know how it went. There are plenty free workouts available online, just be sure you have consulted your Biokineticist or doctor on possible complications you may have before you start. Have fun and let us know how your lifestyle changed! Oh, and next time you get invited to an Acrobranch birthday party, I challenge you to book yourself a ticket on the adult (blue) route too! We all need an adrenaline rush every now and then :)
Find an Acrobranch adventure park and kids party venue near you
Acrobranch offers eight world-class ziplining adventure parks. They can be found here: (1)Constantia Nek in Cape Town, (2)Sunlaws Estate adventure park in Centurion, (3) Rosemary Hill Adventure park in Pretoria East, (4) Melrose Park (and picnic spot) in Johannesburg, (5) Honingnestkrans Street family adventure park in Pretoria North, (6) Timberlake Organic Village on the Garden Route, (7) Huddle Park Linksfield adventure park near Bedfordview and Rosebank and their latest addition to the family- (8)Stellenbosch family adventure park at Klein Joostenberg Farm.