If you’re a parent, you’re familiar with the age-old “I don’t have time to work out!” problem. Our solution? Instead of attempting to carve out a window for exercise sans-children, simply bring them along for the ride! Here are some tips and tricks for exercising with kids of all ages. Plus four big reasons why working out is beneficial to the health of your whole family.
1. Quality matters more than quantity.
The key to exercising with kids is short, effective workouts. According to most trainers, your goal as a parent should be to choose an activity you love, and give it your all—no matter what amount of time you’ve got.
“Last year, I got bullied by someone who saw me working out during my son’s soccer game,” says personal trainer Erin Oprea who famously trains singer Carrie Underwood. “What I learned from that experience is many women want to workout whenever and wherever they can, but some are scared of the attention. I’ve always tried to encourage other parents to join me in getting fit in public, with or without their kids. My philosophy is, the more the merrier!”
2. A little parental problem solving can lead to discovering a new workout you love.
“Before becoming a mom, I used to love a really good long run,” says Aaptiv trainer Kira Kohrherr, founder of Fit Bump. “Now I don’t even have a fraction of that time! I like, and recommend, HIIT-style workouts. They always leave me feeling energized.”
Aaptiv trainer Jaime Mcfaden echoes that approach. “I want to get it in and get things done,” she explains. “I love interval-based circuit training workouts using bodyweight and resistance training. My personal preference as a fit parent is this: At least four times per week I commit to working out. Even if it is only 20-30 minutes, I utilize my entire body and work hard.”
3. You can make exercise work for any age.
Mcfaden says she wouldn’t ever work out if it didn’t happen alongside her four-month-old daughter. She’ll fit in a workout during naptime, on a walk or even do simple exercises while holding her baby. That’s what exercising with kids is all about—flexibility.
“I love working out with my nine-month-old, Rhys,” shares Kohrherr. “I’ll do push-ups over him, bench-press and kiss him, and make silly faces when I do squats or lunges—all sorts of funny things to make him laugh. When we head out in the stroller, I incorporate him into my exercises like holding planks and grabbing his toes, doing squat jumps, and clapping with him, or doing burpees around the stroller.”
“I’ve got two teenagers, and so we focus on body weight workouts, like push-ups and pull-ups,” explains Oprea. “I teach them how to control their body to use good form, so they can put that ability to good use later on as healthy adults.”
4. Exercise can be a fun adventure.
“Growing up, I lived on a cul-de-sac and played street hockey, tennis, tag, hide-and-seek,” says Oprea. “Exercise can be fun, and it doesn’t always have to be super structured. Each kid is different, but as parents, you can make up games that are engaging for children or focus on what’s important to them. If your kid is into soccer, go play. If one loves music, blast it and turn it into a dance party. Keep everyone up and moving, and away from television and video games.”
“What kid doesn’t love jumping around endlessly?” asks Kohrherr. “All movement is fun for kids, and chasing them around is a great interval workout. Having children mimic your exercises can be a fun way to play together, and they might end up tiring you out before your workout is even over!”