5 Ways to Exercise with Kids

Don't give up on exercise. Here's how to share it with your kids.

If you're a parent, especially of small children, your work-out time is limited. I know—I am living it! I think it's valuable to find ways to work in solo exercise time, whether it's early in the morning, late at night, at a gym with a child care 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 don't let that derail your fitness goals. You can still exercise with children around. Try these kid-friendly activities. Little ones can join in, help out, or just play nearby. Don't forget to start with a warm-up!

1
Give me 10 push-ups.

exercise with kids - share a push-up
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Modify push-ups and other strength training moves 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 her knees or just lie on her stomach and straighten her 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 beanbags, 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!

2
Run, walk, and roll.

exercise with kids - use a jogging stroller
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Have your child accompany you 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. While you walk, jog, or run, older preschoolers and grade-schoolers can get their own workout on scooters, tricycles, bikes, or in-line skates. If you are a cyclist, consider a trail-a-bike that turns your bike into a tandem-style your child can use.

3
Yoga for two or more.

exercise with kids - yoga
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Teach your child a few simple poses and he can stretch or twist alongside you. Many kids are quite adept and flexible, but let him take the lead and go at his own pace. "Have your child get into the pose by himself—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." More »

4
Dance it out.

exercise with kids - dance
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This may be the easiest way to exercise with children: Pump up the music and dance. 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 follow the instructor's moves, and the kids just do their own jams.

5
Hit the playground.

exercise with kids - at the playground
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Playground equipment is fun for kids and can be a great workout for moms and dads too. This circuit routine offers options for beginning exercisers, more advanced athletes, and even parents and kids working together. More »

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