Often one of the first sacrifices new parents make is their bodies. Before the baby, trips to the gym were easy, eating healthy was simple, and pounding the pavement for a quick run required minimal planning. After the baby, just finding a few minutes to relax can seem impossible. But becoming a dad is no reason to let the pounds pile on. Plus, staying active sets a good example for your child.
According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, one of the best ways to help your kid avoid childhood obesity is to encourage them to be active for at least 60 minutes per day. By creating a daily workout that involves your little ones, you can teach them that staying active is important while also helping you shed that extra weight since your bundle of joy came along.
“There are tons of ways to exercise with your kids at home or outside the home. The most important thing is to spend that time bonding with your child and having fun.” says Anna Kaufman, herself a parent, and owner of The Little Gym in Westminster, Colorado. “By keeping it fun for both of you, it will help keep your child engaged in the activities.”
Here are a few tips to help you create a workout that both of you can enjoy.
Make It A Game
If there is one thing kids love most, it’s playing with their parents. It promotes bonding, gets them excited and, most importantly, can lead to a workout that both burns a few calories and creates infectious giggles. To exercise with your kids at home, get two stuffed animals and set them a few feet apart. Then jump between the two, over them, around them, mixing in lunges and squats as you go. Or do sets of pushups while your child rides on your back. “If you are having fun, a workout seems much easier,” says Kaufman. The key is to look around the house for ways to make every activity exciting.
In our increasingly digital world, one of the main casualties is outside playtime.“We don’t see nature time as critical, so it gets bumped from our kids’ increasingly packed schedules,” says Scott Sampson author of How To Raise a Wild Child. “Thus they are taught to shun the outdoors and get in front of a screen of some kind from an early age.” The easiest way to exercise with your kids outside is to go to your local playground. While pushing your kid on the swing, mix in burpees between every other push (just make sure you do them off to the side so you don’t get clocked in the face). Use an empty swing to do a hanging plank. Play pirate ship on the play sets and alternate who chases whom. Once junior can ride a bike, have him try to beat you when you go jogging. While you’re sweating it out, your child is learning that outdoor activities can be fun.
Join a Class
Most gyms now have programs that help you exercise with your kids — all moderated by professionals, so that you can focus on having fun. “Helping your child build balance coordination and basic motor skills while you both stay in shape can be one of the most rewarding activities for parents,” says Kaufman. “We find once parents come to our gym they are motivated to keep coming back, making a commitment seems to provide motivation to keep committed to working out.”
If you don’t want to go to a gym, there are plenty of sports teams that you can join or help coach. Teaching a pack of three-year-olds how to kick a soccer ball will wear anyone out.
The key is making healthy choices that keep your family active. Once you start, it will be tough to stop. You will feel better and, most important, your child will associate working out with playtime.
How to Exercise with Your Kids: A Cheat Sheet
- Make exercising a game — a little roughhousing and play with push-ups.
- Take advantage of the playground. It’s your kids’ favorite place to exercise, and a great spot for parents to join in.
- Find a class that focuses on exercises for kids and parents.