10 Ways to Exercise With Your Child
As a busy parent, how can you fit exercise into your daily schedule? Work up a sweat with your kids, of course. Here are 10 activities to try.
Never view your child’s playtime simply as an opportunity to catch up on chores. Playing helps children develop crucial physical and mental skills, from imagination, creativity and coordination to dexterity and emotional and physical strength. Watching out the window may give you the impression that your daughter is just meandering aimlessly around the garden, but all sorts of neurons are firing and muscles are being engaged. At a minimum, she is learning to explore the world safely.
If she is with her brothers or friends, she is also learning how to share, work as a member of a group and resolve conflicts. Join in. Crawl across the floor with your toddler. Kick around a soccer ball with your middle schoolers. Work that hula hoop and skip that rope while teaching your kids jumping rhymes. Fly kites, play tag and hit Wiffle balls. You’ll earn points with your kids while shrinking your waistline and toning your abs.
Turn your baby into a barbell
Don’t let the arrival of a baby stop you from exercising. You can bench press your newborn son between hugs while lying in bed and cradle him in your arms while doing deep squats. This is multitasking at its best: The physical contact strengthens the bonds between you and your baby while the weightlifting movements strengthen your chest and legs.
Walk it off
Walking can be pretty dull. Liven up the experience by packing a camera and turning your trek into a photography adventure. Better, do more than just walk around your neighborhood. Take a ghost tour on foot or follow animal trails in the woods. If all else fails, visit the mall. Any movement is better than sitting.
Lay down the boogie
Preschoolers and teens love moving to music, and spending 30 minutes busting some moves on a rainy day can burn a lot of calories. Unless you intend to fight your way to fitness, though, let your kids choose the music.
Get the bikes out of the garage and go for a spin. If you have toddlers too young to ride on their own, attach a trailer or child seat to your own bicycle and take them out for some healthy fresh air.
Get things going swimmingly
Persuading your children to visit a local pool shouldn’t be difficult. If your kids are older and competent swimmers, leave them to make their own fun while you do laps. Never leave smaller children unattended around water, however. Team up with another parent and take turns watching toddlers.
Take a class
Hundreds of fitness classes cater to students of all ages. Find one that groups participants by ability. Try martial arts, trampolining, high diving, scuba diving, kayaking or Zumba.
A 160-pound adult can burn almost 550 calories while rollerblading for one hour. The same benefits hold for children. After investing in high-quality inline skates, all you and your family need is a flat concrete or paved surface. Don’t forget a helmet, kneepads and elbow pads for everyone. Otherwise, you may find yourself hanging out in the emergency room instead of gliding down the street.
Climb a wall
Indoor rock wall climbing is a great total body workout. It builds strength, improves agility and develops coordination. Most gyms have separate climbing walls for adults and kids. Some even let kids just learning to walk “boulder,” which means working one’s way over a low obstacle without using ropes.
Get your bearings by orienteering
Think you can out-navigate your children while wending your way through the woods, across streams and through marshes? Give orienteering a try. This fun family activity requires you to use a map and compass to locate and run, jog or walk through a series of checkpoints on your way to a finish line. Your kids will probably love getting off the beaten path and competing against adults.