Make Exercise A Family Priority

A Mom’s daily calendar is almost always overscheduled. Each day usually starts early and ends late. It may include lots of running in circles (at least it can feel that way). But, probably is lacking any real physical activity. With children returning to school, the schedule gets even tighter due to school requirements and events.

It may seem an insurmountable task to get your family into the healthy habit of regular exercise. Yet, with the disturbing recent obesity trends, it’s an extremely important habit to adopt. Studies have indicated that children are 40% less active than they were just 30 years ago. This has negative effects for kids in physical, psychological, and social areas.

So, being an active family needs to become a priority. Fortunately, it’s actually easier than you may think. With a little planning you can find ways to incorporate workouts into the time you spend with your children. Regardless of your children’s age, there’s a way to find time to workout (often even with your kids)! Here are some tips organized by age, which will add to your family time together and help to keep the whole family active!

Age: Infant through pre-school

Play a game of keep-away or tag.
Occupy them for even 15 minutes with a video or toy while you do some toning exercises like squats and tricep dips.
Grab your stroller and go for a brisk walk. Or, buy a jogging stroller for more flexibility. With a jogging stroller you can walk faster, jog or even run at a fast pace. And, for veteran rollerbladers, you can even use the stroller for some skating time. Don’t forget the kid helmets.
For younger children, you can use a back carrier to transport them while walking. This can burn even more calories as the extra weight makes it more challenging.
Turn on some music and dance together. Toddlers love dancing, especially when their parents join in.
Play hopscotch – yes, you will work up a sweat.
Push your kid on a swing. And, after every push complete one squat.
Use an infant carrier or bike trailer to enjoy a bike ride together.

Age: Grade School

Try rollerblading or skating together.
Spend an afternoon at a park with a playground, but don’t spend the whole time relaxing on the sidelines – join in on the fun. Spend some time swinging to help workout your legs. Try making it across the monkey bars – even just once (it’s a great upper body workout and you’ll be amazed that your kid does it with such little ease). Try some pull-ups using a bar on the playset. Do some tricep dips on a nearby park bench.
Get a small group together for a kickball or softball game.
If your child can ride a bicycle at a moderate pace, jog alongside of them.
Involve your kids while you strength train. Let them count your reps out loud for you and/or clock your rest time in-between sets.
Try a game of marble pick-up. Set up a circle (or more than one) of marbles. Compete with each other to see who can pick them up quicker following certain rules (e.g. not being able to bend from the waist but instead using a squatting technique to grab them). Adults will get an extra workout if they squat while balancing on just one foot.
On rainy days that force you inside, walk or run up and down the stairs. You might even make it a contest to see who can finish 5 complete rounds first.

Age: Teenagers

Register for a fun run (or walk) event and spend time together training for the event.
Set up an obstacle course in your back yard. Then try such things as quick sprints back and forth between two objects, hopping over a line of sticks, and running zig-zags around a line of cones.
Play tennis or basketball together.
Consider joining a community volleyball or softball team that includes enthusiasts of all ages.
Don’t just sit and cheer your kids at their sporting events. Every few minutes do some walking or jumping jacks or squats.
Learn how to do strength training exercises that require partners. There are dozens of options that work both individuals’ bodies. For example, partner squats where two people stand facing each other, grasp each other around their forearms and squat simultaneously as if sitting in a chair.
Implement a daily family walk each day before or after dinner.
Work together in the yard raking leaves, planting flowers, trimming trees.

Sure, you may have a very full plate but isn’t it time to throw out the “I’m a parent – I don’t have time to workout” excuse. Don’t focus on the frequency or irregularity of your workouts. Take the opportunities for physical activity when they arise. If you implement these above activities for just 30 minutes three times per week, you can easily burn an extra 450 calories or more!

Plus, working out sets a great example for your children that will teach them at an early age how important (and easy) it is to make physical fitness a part of daily life. Exercising with your kids also provides the extra bonus of spending quality time together.