Over years of running, I have realized that I make best friends with my running buddies, especially my running partners. This applies to a majority of runners, in fact. And it’s not surprising at all. If a runner runs for an hour a day with his running partner, he spends a quality 60 minutes with that person, and gets to know every detail about the other person’s life.
Small wonder then that sometimes our family members get jealous of our friends. But surely the onus is on us to bridge the gap if our families feel left out of the loop?
Alone, except for exercise?
The problem is, we are spending less and less time with our real-life families and friends, and more and more time interacting with our e-friends on various networking sites on the Internet. Most parents identify their children by the marks they get at school or the salary package they get after that.
The young people, meanwhile, are getting into relationships after e-dating for a while through SMS, e-chat, emailing or, again, those dreaded networking sites. If they do get married, they are in for a surprise: They don’t know the real person at all.
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Another problem is that the fitness freaks among us get a bit obsessive about our activities, which limits further the time that could have been spent with family and friends.
Walk on: Family members can use walks to spend time together.
Getting it together
The simple solution is to start doing these sports, exercises and physical activities with our loved ones: parents, spouse and children.
1. Walk or run: A slight change of pace can be companionable.
• Spare one or two days a week to go slow with your spouse, if he or she can’t keep up initially.
• Bringing the children needs a little more patience as you have to get them in the right mood first.
• If grandparents like their morning walks, it can only get better with their favourite little people—their grandchildren.
2. Shop: This is an activity you already do, so make it healthier.
• Park your car a bit further from the shopping mall or market.
• Give escalators and lifts a miss; hold a stair-climbing challenge.
• Take your walk in the mall. Weather and urban pollution can no longer be blamed for disrupting fitness routines. In a mall’s air-conditioned and less polluted environment, you can go for long walks with your loved ones—no credit cards required.
3. Adventure activities: Family outings and holidays can revolve around physical activity: walking, climbing, trekking, safaris, etc.
• For you, it could simply be a visit to a new town or place, and a walking tour to areas of interest.
• For children, look for a fun element in the destination or the walk. Besides cultural heritage and history, museums can also teach them about health conditions and healthy ageing.
• Grandparents are usually very interested in the history aspect of outings, so heritage walks are a good option.
• In the neighbourhood, you can rope in friends and family across all age groups to clean up the local parks and playgrounds for an eco-friendly adventure.
Increased physical activity has also been proven to have immense benefits for education, social interaction, team spirit, discipline, emotional health, performance under pressure, etc.
During this time together, elders can pass on their learnings from experience and can stay up-to-date with current trends, which their children or grandchildren are more aware of. Even spouses can learn from each other. When we are exposed to new situations through activities we haven’t shared together before, some previously hidden interests and characteristics surface. It’s definitely helpful to see that in our children, spouses and parents, and for them to see those in us, to understand us better.
As a bonus, we give the most important gift of all—health!
Rajat Chauhan is a practitioner of sports and exercise medicine and musculoskeletal medicine, and CEO of Back 2 Fitness.
Write to Rajat at firstname.lastname@example.org