With the alarming (and climbing) rate of childhood obesity in the United States, it's more important than ever that parents model healthy behaviors for their children. Being a fit family doesn't mean you have to drag your kids to the gym or put them on a diet. In fact, living a lifestyle of movement and teaching them how to appreciate the benefits of exercise will help them grow up with a mindset that caring for their bodies is important. The best part is your kids are never too young to embark on a journey of fitness for themselves. Opportunities to exercise are all around you—having kids doesn't mean it's harder, it just means you'll have to get more creative.
1. Yoga - Yoga is a natural fit for most kids. They're already naturally quite flexible, and doing yoga is like a big game of Twister with all weird poses and shapes you make with your body. However, it's vital that children are taught good form so they don't get hurt. A good DVD or video online with an instructor should be all that is needed, but there are no shortage of groups who perform outdoor yoga in the park—and in most cases it’s free!
2. Bike Riding - Your kids need to learn how to ride a bike at some point, and since you were going to teach them anyway, why not get in some practice and exercise? When kids are too little to ride on their own, consider investing in an attachment that goes onto the back of your own bike that allows your kids to pedal. Similar to a tandem bike, you can even get attachments with training wheels. As weather permits, take bike rides with your kids and enjoy the scenery together while exercising those muscles. They'll probably sleep better too!
3. Kickboxing - This intensive form of exercise will get the heart rate up as arms punch and legs kick—perfect for energetic little ones. You can exercise and teach your kids some great moves that they'll love to do with you. To make it even more fun, allow them to punch the palms of your hands or have them swing into the air as you duck and dodge.
4. Body Weight Exercises - Jumping jacks, squats, burpees, mountain climbers, and other body weight movements are perfect for getting in some exercise and expending excess energy. Kids, as you know, are full of spare energy that, if not channeled properly, can quickly become mischief. Teach them positive ways to get their bodies under control by burning off calories and energy jumping, squatting, twisting, and more.
5. Dancing - Kids love to dance, and even if you're not an expert dancer yourself, try DVDs like Zumba or even belly dancing to get your kids to exercise along with you. Or, just simply throw on Pandora or Spotify and let your limbs move about as they wish. With great, upbeat music and new, fun ways to shake, jump, slide and step, your kids will simply love the joy of dancing with you, even if they don't quite get the moves right.
6. Park Day - Your local park is full of creative ways to exercise, even if you didn't know it. From the monkey bars to the slides to the decorative rocks, there are opportunities galore for chin ups, tricep dips, squats, and more. Have your kids chase you around to get in some cardio, and then have them follow your lead as you use the playground equipment to build those muscles.
So often it's easy to dismiss exercising because you have your kids to contend with—but no more! Between free DVDs or exercise programs you can do at home, and all the fun things you can do at your local park, your kids can see you living a lifestyle of fitness that inspires them to do the same. Making exercise fun and easy for your kids is a big part of what will keep them interested, and getting to spend that time with you only sweetens the deal. It's a win-win!