5 Ways to Exercise With Your Kids: It’s Easier Than You Think. Here are a few ideas I’ve used to keep them engaged even if only for a few minutes at a time.
A few months ago, I gave away my double jogging stroller to a friend. It was a bittersweet moment and I felt like I was closing a chapter in life. I walked back into my house and cried! I didn’t care about the stroller, but it was just another sign my kids were growing way too fast. That stroller represented a lot of memories and miles!
Since then I’ve seen that stroller on Facebook, as my friend runs the same routes and takes pictures of her children asleep in the seats where my kids used to be. While I look back on those days fondly, my kids and I have moved into a new phase in life.
They can actually exercise with me and participate a bit when I do my workouts. I am not an expert and don’t hold a whole exercise class with them, but here are a few ideas I have tried to try and keep them engaged for just a few minutes at a time.
5 Ways to Exercise With Your Kids: It’s Easier Than You Think
1.) Teach them.
I think body weight exercises are safe for young children to learn. My son’s gym teacher is teaching them how to do squats, push-ups, sit ups, even ring rows. (He’s in first grade). They are the most basic movements that other skills are built on. By teaching them how to do something you are doing, it makes kids feel more involved and empowered. Some easy body weight exercises for kids to learn are push-ups, squats, wall sits, planks and any of jumping. Those are all exercises I incorporate into my own HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workouts. This brings me to number two.
2.) Put them in charge of something.
HIIT workouts require usage of a timer, where one exercise is performed for about 50 seconds then you rest for 10 seconds. Maybe allow your kids to hold the timer, tell you when to switch, or have them count your reps. You can get your exercise and they get some exposure to numbers as well.
3.) Keep their attention.
Let’s face it, a child’s attention span isn’t that long. We can’t expect them to sit through an hour long workout DVD or follow along with exercises for more than 30 minutes. When I exercise with my kids in tow, I try and keep it to about 20 minutes. Any longer than that and they eventually find themselves in trouble 🙂 As I mentioned in #2, HIIT workouts move from one exercise to another a minute (or so) at a time. A good way to make this more fun is to set up stations. I used to set up stations for pull ups, jumping rope, pull-ups and sit ups in different corners of my garage. My son found it fun to see me move from one station to the next and he’d move along with me. It was a good way to keep him engaged for snippets at a time.
4.) Make it a contest.
A popular workout format in Crossfit is “As Many Reps/Rounds as Possible” (AMRAP) These workouts require you to complete as many repetitions of one exercise or rounds of multiple exercises in a set amount of time. Your child could either compete with you or count your reps. If you choose body weight exercises like squat jumps, push-ups and push ups, you’ll be surprised how hard just 5 minutes of this type of workout is!
5.) Make it a game.
In Crossfit, there is a workout called “The Hopper” where a number of workouts are placed in a bowl and you don’t know what your workout will be until you pull one of out the bowl. This could be made into a game for kids. If you write down various exercises and put them in a bowl, have your child pull out one card at a time and do it for 1 minute. Rest another minute and have them choose again. Or you can choose and let them try to do the exercise.
My children haven’t lasted through an entire workout with me. But if one of these 5 Ways to Exercise With Your Kids can keep them engaged for just five minutes here or there, it still helps me get my workout in without them getting too restless. And they also get a chance to exercise with me. I have to say, it’s a pretty good feeling when my 6-year old says “Mommy, look at my squat!” It’s the new “Look Ma, no hands!”
I think exercise is another way to build them up, both physically and emotionally. They get to spend time with me, learn something new, and have a little active fun. I better enjoy it while it lasts. I think the next phase is when they start leaving me in their dust!
Thanks for Reading,
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