Lead by example: 5 ways your workouts are good for your kids


Tuesday Morning, 6:30 a.m., my boys come bouncing into my bedroom.  “Mom!  It’s time to swim!”  Oh man, did I really agree to this on Sunday?!  Rewind to Sunday, I was out for a walk with my 7 year old and our dog Zoe and we had a chat about the Kids' Tri NC Series from what it involves to how J could master swimming across the pool without touching the bottom by the triathlon to training and race entry.  He was IN!  When we came back home, he set to work on his training plan that involved swim practice before school on Tuesdays.  Fast-forward back to Tuesday – The morning was cloudy and remarkably cool for June in NC.  By 7:05 we were geared up at our neighborhood pool ready for swim practice and the pool was locked.  Rather than calling it quits then, we headed back to the house to exchange our flip flops for kicks and then headed to the track.  In J’s words “Let’s just exchange swim practice for a run and we’ll swim tomorrow.”  He ran 2.5 miles before school and, not to be outdone by his big brother, C ran a half mile at age 4.  WOW!  That was new and my husband and I couldn’t be more proud.

Cheering on Dad at IRONMAN Chattanooga September 2017

Here’s the thing – my husband and I both work in health and fitness and live an active lifestyle.  We are regularly training for endurance events from half marathons to IRONMAN races.  Our boys hear us talk about training plans, getting our training in, recovering, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep so we feel good.  Our boys are directly affected by weekend long runs and rides, from one parent being out training to getting to spend some quality time with the other parent.  I’d be lying if the occasional thoughts of “I should be with the guys today” didn’t pop into my head from time to time, but at the same time -   WOW!  Look what J did Tuesday!  He and his brother see Mom and Dad working hard for months to complete their goals.  They see us make healthy choices from food to sleep to self-care.  They reap the benefits of relaxed Mommy after she finishes a ride with her girlfriends and happy Daddy when he comes in from an awesome trail run.

We have no trouble physically going for a 4 mile hike as a family or running down to the playground with the boys on their bikes.

It’s not uncommon to feel guilty about taking family time to workout.  I encourage you, the next time the parent-guilt sets in over an exercise session or making another health choice for your family, consider the following:

  1. Children mimic your behavior – the good and the not so! Remember when they were 3 and mini-tape
    Rainy day Cosmic Kids Yoga

    recorders playing back your phrases?  The same happens with their actions. When your healthy choices affect your children, they will grow up doing the same.  I cannot remember a time when my mom did not exercise and my dad was not active outside all day!  They’re both still at it as grandparents, and, my parents are certainly a big part of the reason why I love doing both – exercising and being outside.  Research shows that active kids are more likely to enjoy an active lifestyle as adults and are less likely to be overweight.

  2. Seeing you struggle and succeed is good for your kids. We all know life is not easy.  What better way to set your kids up for success than showing them that setting ambitious goals includes a bit of struggle along the way?  Or, that to do something incredible – like complete an IRONMAN – you have to step out of your comfort zone.
  3. Healthy choices don’t have to be yucky!
    "Mom Riding Her Bike" by J

    Fun, or even normal, could be picking out new fruits and veggies at the farmer’s market, a good night’s sleep so you have energy to play, and exploring the great outdoors.  It’s time we stopped making healthy a chore!  When our kids see us routinely making healthy choices, they will see these choices as “normal” and not “healthy” or “boring.”

  4. Mom and Dad are healthy. Parents managing their health and wellness feel better both physically and mentally which results in more energy to parent, work, and play and less sick days.  Also, I don’t know about you, but when I feel good, I’m much more patient with my kids – enter NICE Mommy.
  5. Exercise builds confidence. When you are confident both physically and mentally, your children will be more apt to be confident in their own skin.
    SAS IronMoms Michelle Barillaro, Amanda Pack, Carrie Hughston, and Bri Gaal at 2018's IRONMAN Texas

    After a yoga practice or a nice run, I’ll feel like I can conquer any task, and my boys get to witness that as I whip up dinner and prep for the next day like a boss.  Want to boost that confidence even more? Do so with your words!  Read more about it here.

Parenting is hard stuff, why not set yourself up for success by taking good care of yourself so you can take good care of your kids?  What would happen if you did?

Kids home more this summer?  Take advantage of the daylight and your local parks!  One thing I absolutely LOVE about the RTP area is the number of state and local parks that feature fun playgrounds, many with walking tracks attached, and hiking trails.  Google parks in your area and get outside!  Here are some of our family favorites:

Mother/son run/bike workout on the American Tobacco Trail

About Author

Amanda Pack

Sr. Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator

Amanda received her B.A. in Exercise and Sport Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At SAS, she has shares her passion of wellness with SAS employees as a Senior Recreation and Fitness Program Coordinator. When she’s not teaching others how to squat, chaturanga, and run or coaching expecting moms and Ironmen-to-be, you’ll find her exploring the outdoors with her husband, two sons, and schnoodle, cooking, propagating succulents, and training for endurance events. She’s a 2x IRONMAN finisher and multi-marathoner who loves to be on the trails or on her yoga mat! Amanda is registered through Yoga Alliance as an Experienced 200 hour Yoga Teacher (E-RYT200), certified in personal training and group exercise instruction through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), an IRONMAN Certified Coach and has training in prenatal yoga, Cosmic Kid's Yoga, and as a postpartum doula.


  1. Love this article! I told my husband about it and how J didn't use the locked pool as an excuse. The very next morning, my husband he set out for a morning bike ride. He had a flat tire before he started and it was getting hot outside. After he fixed it, he was worried traffic was getting busy and the temperature even hotter. Instead of using that as an excuse, he decided to go to the pool and swim laps instead. So he traded in his bike for some flippers! These are great tips for the young and old.

    • Amanda Pack

      Thank you! We can always find a reason not to exercise, but there's a little bonus satisfaction when we finish the workout that we could have easily quit due to circumstances. 🙂

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