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Exercise with the Kids

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Father and son with bicycles
Zing Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images
How can a busy dad fit in his exercise regimen when he has responsibility for the kids? Smart and fit dads find ways to involve the children in exercise. It's good for dad, because he needs it to stay fit. And it's good for the children because it helps them start early to build lifelong fitness habits.
Time Required: Daily about 30 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Pedal away. Kids love to cycle, and it is a great fitness approach for dads as well. Get those old bikes out of the garage, or get some newer, lighter bikes and start taking some family bike rides.
  2. Stroke for Life. Swimming is the ultimate low-impact cardio sport, and children seem to have a natural affinity for the water. Get a family membership at the local pool or recreation center and take the kids swimming. Make sure they are water safe (swimming lessons are always a good idea first). Have them swim some laps with you, then play for a while in the pool with them.
  3. Get down at home. Dancing to music at home is a great way to have fun and get some exercise with your younger children. Your preschool and elementary age children especially will love moving to the music. And you'll be surprised what a workout you can get with about 30 minutes of active dancing.
  4. Head out for a walk. Kids enjoy walking, especially with dad. Whether it's around your neighborhood, or whether you drive to an urban trail or a park or the shopping mall, walking for fitness can be fun. You can even do it in shorter segments (10 minutes at a time) and receive a significant health benefit.
  5. Volksmarch. Many families are getting into volksmarching, which is an organized approach to walking. Find a local volksmarch event, register, and get moving.
  6. Rolling off the inches. Even though roller blades have taken on a bit of a negative connotation with the "skater" movement, they are still a great exercise device, and kids seem to enjoy them. Good rollerblades are a small investment, and rollerblading can be fund as well as a good cardio workout.
  7. Put little ones in a stroller or cart. Carving out exercise time with a toddler or younger can be demanding. Consider finding a jogging stroller] or a bike trailer and take the kids for a ride.
  8. Climb the wall. Rock climbing is a total body workout, and more and more gyms and recreation centers are including climbing walls as part of their offering. Taking turns on climbing walls with the children is a fun, adventuresome and invigorating workout.
  9. Find hiking resources. More and more communities are developing a trails network. Some trails are rural; some are urban. Find some trails in the area, or maybe plan a summer vacation or long weekend at a national or state park where you can get some good hiking in.

Tips:

  1. Remember that children tend to tire and dehydrate faster than adults. Make sure you structure your workout time and schedules accordingly.
  2. Make many activities active. For example, one dad I know takes his kids to a park, and between pushes on the swing, he does deep knee bends. Find creative ways to get that exercise in while you are parenting in other ways.

What You Need

  • A little creativity
  • Commitment to your own health
  • Concern for your children's health and wellness
  • Proper exercise equipment
  • A doctor's permission if you are starting an exercise program
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Develop Exercise Habits With Your Children

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