How to Exercise with Children
Most of us are aware of the health benefits of exercise, but for parents, it can be hard to find time to exercise while chasing children. Here are a few tips for ways that mom and dad can stay fit.
Mom and Baby Aquafit
Some pools offer mom and baby aquafit for moms with children between six and twenty-four months. Babies usually sit in a flotation device within arm’s reach of mom while mom works out in the pool. Moms are able to interact with their babies while working out, and babies become familiar with a pool environment.
These classes are best with one child per parent and with a child who is willing to sit still in the flotation device for the duration of the class. Talk to your local pool to see if they offer classes or would be willing to start a class.
Another option for fitness with babies is Strollercize. Babies hang out in their strollers while moms exercise around them. Check with your local recreation center to see if classes are offered near you. Make sure to wear good walking shoes and bring water with you. My daughters always enjoy a walk in the stroller, particularly if we are walking outdoors and the scenery is interesting.
You could also start your own group to exercise with strollers. Meet at a nearby park with strollers and power walk or job around a set path. Bring snacks or small toys to keep children occupied (if they won’t nap in the stroller). A jogging stroller is a plus for this activity; if you have a double stroller, this form of exercise will work for up to two kids (and that will give mom a better workout!).
Bicycling with Children
If you enjoy cycling, there are several ways to do this with your children. Infant seats can be bolted on your bike’s handlebars or behind your seat for children between the ages of 1 and 3 years. Or you can purchase single or double bike trailers to pull behind your bike, which can come with infant inserts for babies six months and older, and which can carry children up to four or five years old.
Children should wear helmets when cycling with mom or dad. You may have to shop around to find a helmet small enough to fit a one-year-old.
I recommend that you do some research before cycling with children to choose the best option (seat or trailer) for your child and to be aware of the safety concerns. See what other parents and safety experts recommend. For example, Parenthood.com offers an article on Biking With Baby and Mothering.com has a forum for parents.
Exercise at Home
The easiest way to exercise with children is likely to do it in your own home. This doesn’t have to mean buying equipment such as an exercise bike or a elliptical machine (although those are great options if you like using them at the gym). Your child can play in an exersaucer or designated play area, or read books or watch a movie, while you work out.
There are many great home workout DVDs available. Try some at your local library or ask your friends for recommendations. Your child may enjoy trying to do the moves with you. I found a workout that involved doing a series of jumping jacks, lunges, pushups, etc.; I worked out while listening to music and encouraging my children to keep up with me (when I wasn’t laughing at their efforts).
You may have to try several forms of exercise to find one that works for your family or your stage in life. If your children see you working out, they will be more likely to value exercise themselves. Exercise also benefits parents by relieving stress and increasing energy. So find a way to move that works for you and your child!
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