A Busy Parent’s Stay-Fit Idea Guide

Chris Freytag by Chris Freytag | May 12th, 2009 | 7 Comments
topic: Family Health, Fitness

Father and son

Parenting is a full time job. It’s no wonder many of us have trouble finding time to take care of ourselves and fit fitness into our lives. But in a world where childhood obesity is a national threat and our kids are inundated with technology that makes sitting still all day seem fun, fitness is a crucial life skill we need to be teaching our children. And children learn best by mimicking their parents’ behavior. As a trainer and mom of three teens, I know these ideas for parents of kids in specific age groups make it easier to add more movement and fitness into your family life and your own busy schedule.

mother and small son going in for sportsIf your child is an infant or toddler

  • Get your child dancing. Small children often love to dance. They are so uninhibited and love to get their bodies moving. Put on your favorite music and dance along with them. I guarantee you’ll get some giggles out of it and both you and your child will get your hearts pumping.
  • Do lunges while your toddler trikes! Take your toddler for a trike ride around the block and — since toddlers don’t pedal very fast — walk alongside him/her doing lunges. Don’t forget a helmet for your little one!
  • Do exercises alongside your child in the family room while they get some playtime. If you have an exercise cord kit, you can get an entire strength training routine in while your little one plays with his/her toys.
  • If there is a safe path, walk to your errands pushing your son/daughter in a stroller. You’ll get some exercise and at the same time knock some items off that endless to-do list. And your child will get some fresh air and enjoy the scenery.

If your child is school age

  • Find a track or walking path near your children’s extracurricular activities.  Keep a pair of gym shoes in the car so instead of sitting in the bleachers at every sports practice or waiting for a lesson to be done, you can grab a half-hour walk or run.
  • Get outside with your kids and play their favorite sports. Kids love to have their parents’ attention and what better way to get it than through an activity they love. Play a game of pick-up basketball or get over to the tennis court and hit some balls with them. This is a great way to spend some quality time with your kids and be fit.
  • Take a penny hike. This is a twist on the traditional after-dinner walk. Grab a penny and at each corner or crossroads in the neighborhood, flip the coin deciding if it’s heads you’ll go one way and tails you’ll go the other way. Kids love the mystery of finding out which way you’ll end up going. Of course, you’ll have to find your way home eventually! (This was a family tradition when I was little!)
  • Involve your youngster in your yard work and gardening.  Weeding, planting, sweeping … these are all activities that use muscle groups and allow your child to take part in one of your hobbies.

If your child is a teenager

  • Plan a fitness vacation with your teenager. There are tons of great alternatives to a traditional “sit on the beach” vacation. Look for walking tours, rafting trips, skiing adventures, bike trails … the opportunities are endless. Or plan a trip to your favorite city and share the city with your teenager by walking from site to site.
  • Train for a race with your teenager. Whether it is running, walking, biking … this is a way to share a common goal with your teenager while emphasizing the fun of exercise. If there are no races coming up, look for a parent/child tournament in your area doing an activity your child enjoys. A father/son golf tournament, mother/daughter doubles tennis … you get the idea.
  • Again, find a track near your child’s extracurriculars where you can sneak in a power walk or run. I often find myself waiting for a game to start or a lesson to be over. These are perfect times to get moving.

Stay Healthy!



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  1. I have enjoyed reading your blog and agree that we have to make to make time for our own yoga practice on a daily basis, even if it means getting up half an hour earlier. It makes us calmer, more grounded parents and sets an example to our kids. I am director and co-founder of YogaBugs in the UK and we deliver fun, creative yoga classes to children before, during and after the school day. (Approx 40,000 kids every week). I’m on my way to Liverpool today
    to meet a professor of Paediatric Exercise Science. The stats on childhood obesity in Liverpool are 50% of 11 year old boys and 40% of girls in the same age group are obese. These statistics are really alarming and strategies and funding are in place to target these kids. Yoga is the perfect activity as it is all inclusive, non competitive and fun. Story style adventures are taught to the 2 1/2 to 7’s and creatively themed classes are delivered to the 8-12 year olds. We underpin many of the strategies set by the Government in terms of physical, mental and emotional aspects of learning.
    I believe if children are introduced to the benefits of yoga from an early age, they will have healthier foundations for a fullfiling life ahead.
    I welcome your comments and thank you. Nell

    Fenella Lindsell | May 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  2. Check out my book The One Bug Your Kids Should Catch available on amazon.com or .co.uk

    Fenella Lindsell | May 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  3. Great post! I really love the Penny Hike! Life gets so busy at times. This was a really good reminder for me to take my daughter outside and play catch. Something my dad did with me when I was little!
    Thanks! great Tips

    Beckie | May 13th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  4. We have been doing geocaches..these are wonderful adventure walks and at the end you find (using your gps) a treasure box. But in the meantime we have gone on a walk of 2 miles or more with the kids and since it is an adventure we don’t even realize that we have gone that far and the kids love it. We have gone to places that we would never have gone to.The last one had clues at Lucas Studios ..Industrial Light and Magic The geocaches are geared to all levels so you could do short ones with little ones..this is a great option..getting excercise and not even realizing it..we are outdoors and loving it.

    Felicia | May 20th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  5. This is an interesting and very informative post. Children these days should really have a daily activity to stay fit and healthy since they are getting engrossed with playing computer games and it is not a healthy activity.

    Dental Manteca | June 24th, 2009 | Comment Permalink
  6. This is absolutely right. Being a working lady, I am very much worried about my child. I will follow your suggestion.

    Tutun | September 10th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  7. I live in Paris and worry about my two children’s stayin fit and away from the playstation. I have to admit I love the Penny Hike sounds great. I am perhaps more excited than the kids. Thanks for the great tips

    Richard in Paris | November 3rd, 2010 | Comment Permalink

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