People say children are impressionable and vulnerable to negative influences, but in their growing years, children can also easily form positive, healthy habits that stay with them for the rest of their lives.
Natalie Dau and her daughter Lilliana. Photo: Natalie Dau
Just ask 46-year-old Natalie Dau, who is an athlete, group trainer, entrepreneur, and mother of a nine-year-old daughter. She knows that family members can play an important role in encouraging an active lifestyle from a young age.
“Fitness is a big part of my life! I’ve always been active as a child. I was lucky to have parents who encouraged that,” she shared, recalling fond memories of jogging with her dad and of her parents cheering her on from the sidelines when she participated in sports such as basketball.
In fact, Natalie shared that her parents remain very active to this day. Her 71-year-old father has been training for his black belt in karate, while her mother could easily be found hitting the gym. It was certainly her upbringing that encouraged Natalie to adopt an active lifestyle and inspired her to guide her daughter, Lilliana, in the same way.
Natalie said: “I definitely think parents need to take some responsibility for encouraging their children to make fitness [a] part of their lifestyle. It’s not that they [the children] are forced to go and do exercise, but it’s just something that the family does [together].”
“I look back fondly at those memories of my parents supporting me and encouraging me, so I wanted to instill that in [Lilliana’s] life too. They were like, ‘try whatever, go and explore, see what you enjoy’, and that’s definitely the approach I’ve taken with my daughter too,” she stated.
Natalie and her family. Photo: Natalie Dau
Besides taking part in some running events, such as the Santa Run and Run for Humanity, together as a family, she shared that both her and her husband make it a point to exercise or train at the same venue as their daughter, whenever Lilliana takes part in her athletics or Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training sessions.
“I think Lilliana has grown up just thinking that it’s really normal for mum and dad to go for a run every morning. She just thinks everyone does that!” Natalie said.
She added that keeping active together has been an absolutely rewarding experience and an awesome way to bond as a family.
“You’re sharing an experience around something that has a positive impact on your family life and on your health. You just feel great as a family too!” she shared.
“I think you got to find something that isn’t too intimidating for the children or the parents. Rather than signing [the children] up for an activity for six months, just start with things that you will all enjoy as a family together,” Natalie enthused.
As a start, she recommends families pick up simple activities such as bike rides at the park, or team sports such as basketball and football. With her daughter attending the ActiveSG Basketball Academy every week, she also strongly advises parents to sign their children up for these “cost-effective” programmes, so the kids can find an activity they truly enjoy.
Natalie and Lilliana at a Spartan race. Photo: Natalie Dau
“Singapore puts on some amazing [and] really cost-effective regular activities for children, so I’d encourage them [parents] to look at that and choose one of those, because there are so many available and they are all great programmes,” she pointed out.
Aside from sports academies and clubs targeted at children, there are many family-orientated activities that are organised by ActiveSG and Sport Singapore on a regular basis, including the upcoming GetActive! Singapore from 28 July to 9 August 2018.
To find out what is offered at this year’s GetActive! Singapore for you and your family, head to the website here or stay tuned to the myActiveSG Facebook page for more details!