How to Exercise With Your Kids

Don't Give Up on Exercise. Share It With Your Kids!

If you're a parent, especially of small children, your workout time may be limited. There are ways to fit in solo exercise time, such as early in the morning, late at night, while the kids are occupied in an activity, at a gym with a childcare facility, or when a partner, grandparent, or sitter can take charge of the kids. But let's face it: That doesn't always happen.

But your responsibilities as a parent don't have to derail your fitness goals. Instead, embrace exercising with your children around. In fact, you can get them moving along with you, instilling positive fitness habits into your kids' lives and providing great opportunities for family bonding. Below, we share kid-friendly activities to try. Little ones can join in, help out, or just play nearby. Don't forget to start with a warm-up.

Give Me 10 Push-Ups

Father and son doing pushups

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Modify push-ups and other strength training moves (such as squats, lunges, sit-ups, and planks) to match your child's ability. While you do a traditional push-up (toes on the floor, legs and back straight, elbows bent), your child can push up from his knees or just lie on their stomach and straighten their arms.

You can also do simple bicep curls, ​tricep raises, and chest presses with a set of hand weights. Older kids can join you, using 1- to 2-pound weights, says Joann Ferrara, a physical therapist in New York. Give younger kids bean bags, cylindrical wooden blocks, or water bottles (fill partway to add heft) if they want weights of their own. Count together as you lift and you're practicing numbers, too!

Run, Walk, and Roll

exercise with kids - use a jogging stroller
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Bring your child along while you run, walk, bike, or in-line skate. Babies, toddlers, and young preschoolers can ride in a jogging stroller, bike seat, or bike trailer. Older preschoolers and grade-schoolers can get their own workout on scooters, tricycles, bikes, or in-line skates while you walk, jog, or run. If you are a cyclist, consider a trail-a-bike that turns your bike into a tandem-style bike for you and your child.

Yoga Practice

exercise with kids - yoga
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Teach your child a few simple poses and they can stretch or twist alongside you. Many kids are quite adept and flexible, but let them take the lead and go at their own pace. "Have your child get into the pose by herself—never push," says Ferrara, who is also the founder of Dancing Dreams, an adaptive dance program for kids with physical and medical challenges. "Kids tend to get overzealous. Err on the side of gentle."

Dance It Out

exercise with kids - dance
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Dance may be the easiest way to exercise with children. Use kids' music or your own, and kids' moves (the hokey pokey, say) or your own. "Dance vigorously enough and it gives you a cardiovascular workout," says Ferrara. You can even play an aerobic dance workout video and call it a dance party—you can follow the instructor's moves and let the kids do their own jams.

Hit the Playground

exercise with kids - at the playground
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Playground equipment is fun for kids and can provide a great workout for moms and dads, too. Create your own circuit routine using the equipment—climb up the steps, race around the structure, cross the monkey bars, swing on the swings. Have your kids join you and you can switch off leading the routine. Alternatively, bring along a yoga mat and get your poses and stretches in, or simply run laps around the play area.

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