You had your baby, and you couldn’t be prouder or happier…unless you felt like you were in better shape. Or, maybe you’re a few years into the family gig and just don’t seem to be able to find the time to get back into pre-baby shape. This doesn’t just plague new moms, though it’s more often thought of in those terms. Dads often have a hard time maintaining their fitness routines once they have children because that former regular gym time has morphed into family time instead. Plus, if he sympathy ate his way through the pregnancy, he may have “baby weight” to lose, too. And the truth is, now is the time you need the benefits of exercise the most. It increases metabolism, boosts energy, sheds pounds, builds muscle, enhances moods, and alleviates stress and anxiety, all things needed to keep up with the chaos of parenthood.
The good news is, the solution can be simple! Instead of trying to squeeze a workout in during naptime or in the wee hours of the night after the kids are in bed, exercise WITH your kids. Not only will you get the much wanted benefits and results of regular exercise, your kids will learn healthy life habits and emulate them, all while spending quality time with you.
While it’s not suggested you take junior to a CrossFit class, there are countless appropriate ways to exercise with your child that benefit your health and theirs. Make sure the activities match your child’s age, then have fun and get fit with some of these suggestions!
- Invest in a baby jogger and take them for a spin, or for older kids, sign up for a road race together. You can run or walk it, but you’ll have fun doing it together while burning calories. Look for some of the more unique varieties, like a mud run, color run, or glow run to add some extra excitement!
- Put the baby in a back carrier and go for a hike if you have a little one. For older kids, check out local parks and trails to hike and explore.
- Go to the park. Each time you push them in the swing, do a squat. If they can “push” themselves, put your feet in the swing next to them in a plank position and do push-ups. Throw in some tricep dips on a park bench. While helping them learn how to cross the monkey bars, do pull-ups in between attempts. Be creative. Before you know it, the park will have turned into your personal gym.
- Ride bikes together. For younger children, invest in a bike carrier/trailer. Your child will enjoy riding while you pedal and explore together.
- Go rollerskating at a local rink, or take some roller blades to the local park.
- Dance, dance, dance. No further explanation is really needed.
- If you really need your time in the weight room, let the kids count your reps or clock your rest between sets. As they get old enough, they can start alternating reps with you.
- Do yoga together. It will increase strength and flexibility while relieving stress and encouraging mindfulness. This is particularly beneficial for daughters, as females are 60% more at risk for anxiety.
- While at their baseball/lacrosse/track/soccer practice, don’t sit on the sidelines, run or walk laps. Do stadium steps and Roman sit-ups on the bleachers.
- Go to the pool. Instead of just sitting in a chair while they play, get in the pool with them.
- Tread water while they play around you, have races, or walk back and forth in the shallow end while they splash with their friends.
- Challenge older kids to a family kickball game or a pick-up baketball game. Play tennis together.
- If your kids are old enough to be into video games, invest in a Wii, Just Dance, or some other fitness based program. You’ll be surprised how sweaty you might get and how much fun you will have together! Some programs even track your calories burned and your progress from workout to workout.
There are dozens of more ways to get active while spending time with your kids. Be creative and get moving on a regular basis. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you, and your child will learn healthy behaviors from his most influential role model. You’ll both appreciate and benefit from the quality time together.
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