I recently wrote an article on how older adults are keeping active more than ever (and even breaking fitness records!). If you’re a grandparent, you are in a unique position to be active with your family; especially with grandchildren. It’s common for both parents to work fulltime, so grandparents often play a big role in helping raise and mentor kids. What does this mean for physical activity levels of grandparents and grandchildren? In my opinion, it’s a fantastic thing!
Looking at the research, Canadian recommendations call for all older adults to do at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity, two resistance training sessions, and balance exercises each week. Children and youth are recommended to get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day and also to limit sitting and screen time.
Let’s look at how grandparents can meet their physical activity needs while helping the little ones get the activity they need, too.
Grandparents will sometimes need to pick up or drop off kids from school, day care, or to and from home. Active commuting (like biking or walking) cuts down on gas costs, greenhouse gas emissions and increases your number of daily steps while also setting a great example. Even taking transit together is both a learning experience and opportunity for activity.
Plan active games and activities for when the grandkids are over, including outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, lawn sports, circuit or amazing race. These fun ideas are considered unstructured play for kids, and also help you improve your balance. A win-win.
Many kids participate in extracurricular sports. Although too much of a single organized sport may not be ideal, doing a few different sports a year can be a great way to keep things fresh for kids and to help them learn new skills. Cheer your grandchild on during their practices, events, and tournaments. When they aren’t in the game or racing, keep active by walking laps around the field, hitting the weight room during gymnastics lessons, or swimming your own laps during swim lessons or practice.
If kids happen to be at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, there’s no reason they can’t help out! Doing things like gardening, yard work, or general cleaning are good life skills to have and can transfer over to their home (mom and dad will approve!). Don’t worry it’s OK for kids to do chores, just show them how to do these useful activities safely and effectively.
Grandparents that are involved with grandchildren are much appreciated by parents. Spending time with grandchildren gives you a chance to bond and pass on your knowledge. Not only will you be helping with your children’s day-to-day scheduling and finances, it keeps both kids and grandparents active and connected too.