Family members discuss working out together, how it affects their relationships in honor of National Family Fitness Day on Sept. 26

Cady Armstrong

According to junior Jacqueline Roth, outside of cross-country practice, she likes to run with her mom, Laura Roth, or take walks with the rest of her family. 

Jacqueline said, “Most often, I do my long run with her and typically run once or twice a week together. But, we also do physical activities together as a whole family such as riding bikes, hiking, kayaking and more.”

Sophomore Caleb Kim said working out with his brother, Elijah Kim, helps motivate him to go to the gym consistently. 

He said via email, “ We focus on both cardio and weight training activities and going to the gym together motivates me to work out consistently. This is because I’m constantly trying to improve myself and I’m trying to set a good example.” 

Kim and Jacqueline aren’t alone in finding motivation in the power of numbers. A 2011 study from Michigan State University found that doing a plank exercise with a partner motivated the participants to work harder and maintain it longer than when compared with those working out alone, in turn improving overall fitness results.

What makes that easier for Kim and Jacqueline is that these partners live in the same household. According to Jacqueline, this is one of the reasons why she and her mom work out together. 

Junior Jacqueline Roth (right) runs with her mom, Laura Roth (left). Jacqueline said she regularly goes on long runs with her mom because it motivates her to go faster and reminds her of her passion for running. (Christian Ledbetter)

“When I see that (my mom) is going to go on a run, I always think that would be fun and find myself wanting to go. This then helps motivate me and remind me that this is something that I would want to do. It also kind of helps keep me on track on vacation and keeps me accountable when I want it to, and along with that, while we’re running, keeping pace together motivates me to go faster just because you’re with another person,” Jaqueline said.

However, according to Mrs. Roth, there are also other benefits such as family bonding that come from being active together.  

She said, “I think from exercise itself you get natural endorphins. So when you’re out moving together, you’re getting those natural endorphins going. But in addition, having that bonding time with your family is really special, and it helps you grow close and it’s also just fun to be outdoors. You get to see nature which is more rare now and you get to make that memory with those you love and bond over that, which ultimately makes you both feel happier and overall more satisfied.” 

According to a 2019 JAMA Pediatrics study, family bonding such as this has long-term positive effects on children’s mental health. In the study, those who experienced positive adolescent family relationships had significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms from early adolescence to midlife than did those who experienced less-positive family relationships.

With National Family Health and Fitness day coming Sunday, Kim reflected on how being active with his brother has helped him and encourages families and siblings to start working out due to these benefits associated with doing so.

He said, “I would highly recommend some siblings to work out together. Working out with siblings can increase chemistry between siblings and can serve as motivation for improvement for the both of you.”

Jacqueline said she agreed and that doing something active with your family doesn’t need to start out as an intense activity. 

“You know, I just encourage people to find activities that interest them. Through my outdoor activities with my family, I’ve found what I like to do but that may be different from others so just take your time. Through trying and finding what I liked, I’ve tried a lot such as water skiing and just trying everything out. It might take a minute but it is worth it,” she said. 

Additionally, both Mrs. Roth and Kim said that working out has led to self-discovery and knowledge. 

Mrs. Roth said, “When you turn off all devices and do everything and go and work out with your family, you’ll find that you’re not only growing closer to the people around you, but you’re growing as a person yourself, too. You grow in your communication skills, your social skills and then your physical fitness. You feel better about yourself and about your day. It helps you disconnect from the rest of the world and kind of communicate with each other, learning so much about your family members but also yourself. Overall, yeah, I think it’s definitely a bonding experience.” 

Junior Jacqueline Roth (left) and her mom, Laura Roth (right), sit down to stretch together before going on a run. Mrs. Roth said that working out together is a bonding experience because she communicates with her family while exercising and gets to learn more about them. (Christian Ledbetter)

Kim also said he has learned a lot from working out consistently with his brother.

He said, “Since starting to go with my brother, I have started to go more frequently, about five days a week, wake up earlier, go for longer amounts of time and have a better outlook on self-improvement in general.”

As for how families should get into working out together, Jaqueline said they should find an activity they all enjoy.

“Just try one afternoon to find what works for you. It doesn’t have to be super intense and could be as simple as a family sunset walk. Overall, I would just encourage them to find something that works for them,” she said. “Once they do, it is super fun and is something to look forward to.”