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Why Get Fit in 2007? Your Kids

  • Ken Canfield President, National Center for Fathering
  • Published Dec 28, 2006
Why Get Fit in 2007? Your Kids

Good health is not the most important factor in being an effective father, because even from a hospital bed, you can be a good father to your kids. However, your physical well being will make a big difference in your expressed commitment to father your children through energy, patience and affection. If you’re physically drained, you’re less likely to join your kids in activities they want to do, and you’re more likely to lose your composure, badger and exasperate your children, or even lose it and start yelling at them.

All of life, we know, is stewardship of what God has entrusted to us. So we try to honor the Lord with how we manage our money, our time, and our possessions. Likewise, we need to commit our bodies to the Lord. Additionally, in marriage we are to "love our wives as our own bodies." If we fail to take care of our own body, we aren’t being the husband, father, and example our family needs.

You’ve probably heard the saying, "The number one killer of men is procrastination." We hate going to see the doctor. But should we be risking our lives by not taking care of ourselves when our children and families need us to be there for them? Maybe it’s time someone asked you: How’s your blood pressure? Could you stand to drop fifteen or twenty pounds? Are you dragging by the time you get home from work? Are you often stressed out from your job? Are you getting enough sleep at night? How about your cholesterol?

If you can stand to, ask your wife and kids to critique your current health, your work schedule, your eating and exercise habits. What ideas do they have for how you can improve? Have them suggest changes your entire family could make that would contribute to a healthier lifestyle. They’ll hold you accountable, which might be tough at first. But the great thing is that you can set goals, encourage each other, and work together to attain them.

So get fit, dad! Start eating better food -- and less of it. Find a challenging sport that you enjoy, and with your doctor’s approval, take it up with your son or daughter -- like tennis, running, cycling, or basketball. Hours on a treadmill will help you reach your goal, but if your kids are involved, that’s even better, because we’ve got to break the cycle of sedentary behaviors. Make time for 30 minutes of exercise three or four times a week, and invite your kids to join you. But even if they don’t, they will notice and remember your commitment and self-discipline.

I know you’ve probably heard some of the many good reasons to take fitness seriously -- including better job opportunities, more self-esteem and confidence, and even a better sex life. For me, the very best reason is to be able to keep up with and enjoy my children. They’re worth whatever changes or sacrifices it might take, and I want to give them the very best I have to offer.

Dads Can Model a Healthy Lifestyle

There’s convincing research showing that fathers’ habits are important factors in whether or not their kids adopt a healthy lifestyle. A 1999 study concluded that "the most serious threat to the health of American children is the behavior of their own parents."

An earlier study found that, among fathers with children in first through fourth grades, 48 percent don’t participate in any moderate or vigorous physical exercise. And less than 30 percent do so three times a week.

Another study found that children ages 4 to 7 with at least one active parent are three times more likely to be active than children of inactive parents. When both parents are active, children are six times more likely to be active.

Still another study showed that fathers, more than mothers, influence their daughters’ activity levels through modeling. Active, fit fathers tend to have daughters who enjoy exercise and activity, and prefer to be outside playing instead of watching TV.

Our children look to us for their values, habits and lifestyle decisions, and what they learn is caught more than taught.

The National Center for Fathering was founded in 1990 by Dr. Ken Canfield because every child needs a dad they can count on -- someone who loves them, knows them, guides them and helps them achieve their destiny. Visit for more articles and resources to assist dads in nearly every fathering situation.