For many parents, workouts are limited to the days and times that kids are either in school or busy with other activities. That means it can be hard to squeeze in exercise when life gets busy.
But while it may seem challenging, not only can you exercise when your kids are around, but you may even come to realize that they can be great motivators and workout buddies. The key is to get creative, stay flexible, and look for ways to tailor your workouts so that they include the kiddos.
To learn how, we talked to Randi Zinn, the founder of BeyondMom.com. Here are Zinn's tips for working out with kids of any age:
Working out with infants
Your baby is likely fascinated by every move you make, so go ahead and make those moves count! It's easy to include your baby in your workout by simply laying down a blanket and letting him play alongside you. You can exercise on your treadmill or stationary bike or sweat along to an online cardio class.
If your baby isn't happy, try using a baby carrier to take him along as you gently exercise. "Use their weight as a little 'extra' as you walk, squat, or use dumbbells," says Zinn. Or try using a jogging stroller to bring your baby for a ride as you speed-walk or jog.
Working out with toddlers
As your baby starts moving around on her own two legs, it's likely that she will never again want to stand still. This can make it more challenging to get in your workout, but as Zinn says, "if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em." Take advantage of your toddler's desire to run, climb, roll and dance by doing it all right alongside her.
Zinn suggests looking for ways to pop some exercise into your day. "I’m a big fan of nightly dance parties," she says. So pick a fun tune and show your toddler your moves. It's great family bonding and the perfect end-of-day exercise for everyone. Another tip: Try breaking your workouts into smaller 5- to 10-minute segments, and don't be surprised if your tot gets down on the floor to exercise right next to you.
Working out with older kids
As your kids get a little older, they will start to understand what a workout is and why you're doing it. So now's the perfect time to instill some good habits by making exercise a fun part of your family activities. Ask them to go for a hike with you, take a long walk or go for a bike ride. If they're interested in lifting weights, teach them how to do it safely. Keep it easy and fun and at their level. "Fitness activities can very much become family activities and there’s no better way to teach than to do," says Zinn.
Working out with teens
If your teens are into sports, it's likely that they will be working out with their teams most days of the week. But that doesn't mean that you need to lose your workout buddy. He might still be up for an evening walk or bike ride to get some fresh air and work out the kinks from the day. You both might find that it is a great way to decompress and chat after the busyness of the day. "And definitely keep having those nightly dance parties," says Zinn. Your teen may act mortified, but trust us, he will secretly love it.