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Don’t Sweat It: Make Exercise A Family Affair

I had so many excuses for not exercising: I was pregnant and tired; I had a newborn and had to tend to his needs; I was too busy balancing my work schedule and family life.

Juggling school, work and after school schedules can be hectic, but if we can somehow manage it all, how difficult is it to squeeze in 30 minutes a day for exercise? Better yet, why not work up a sweat with the whole family?  So, dust off your runners, grab a hair tie and a bottle of lemon water and try these simple ways to make the entire family a little more health conscious.

Piggy back workout

Kids love piggy backs. It not only gives them an exciting new vantage point, hauling your little one on your back is a workout in itself, especially if your kid is pushing 40 to 50 pounds! A modified piggyback can also be fun for you and the kids: get into plank position, allow your little one to hop on your back (carefully) and challenge yourself to a set of push-ups. It’s an instant mood booster for everyone, especially since the motion of this mini-workout will likely have your future personal trainers in stitches.

Put on a DVD

Everywhere you turn, workout DVDs are on store shelves, online and featured in nearly every infomercial, especially if you find yourself flipping through the channels in the middle of the night. Pop one in, gather the family and commit to be fit.

Group classes

Many programs offer classes for the whole family. We recently signed our son up for martial arts, which has already proven to be a sweat-fest. Not only are classes offered for all ages, you can actually schedule your time on the floor while your little one is learning how to perfect his roundhouse kick. Swimming is another good way to work out together. Many companies offer family swim time in addition to scheduled lessons.

Family yoga

Yoga is a full body and mind workout. You don’t need to be a Yogi to reap the benefits of this type of exercise; there are many yoga-style classes geared for children. There are also ways you can modify a yoga workout to cater to your family, whether you have toddlers or teens. After all, who doesn’t love practicing the tree pose? Namaste.

Count your steps

No need for dumbbells or resistance bands for this one. Leave the ankle weights at home and head out on a long walk or hike together. Even at a slower pace, the jaunt will help boost your cardiovascular fitness.

Monkey around

Channel your inner child and remember decades back, when hanging from monkey bars was a ton of fun, and without even knowing it, a fantastic muscle-building workout. Spending time together at a local park is a great way to log some exercise and bonding time as a family. A word of caution: you may not be as bendy as you were in the 80s or 90s. Admittedly, I can no longer hang freely upside down on monkey bars without pulling at least one muscle.

Shake it up

Depending on the intensity and length of your workout, you may be desperate for a recovery drink. Grab the blender and mix a fun, healthy shake the whole family can enjoy. It’s a great snack between meals and you can get creative with your recipe. Here’s one I use for my family:

  • One medium-to-large banana
  • One scoop of smooth peanut butter or Wowbutter
  • 1 cup of 2% milk or almond milk (or more for thinner consistency)
  • 1-2 tablespoon of plain greek yogurt
  • ½ cup of frozen mixed berries
  • 1/3 cup of raw spinach (optional)

My husband has always set a healthy example for our children, prioritizing exercise and leading by example. That’s likely why our five-year-old has already perfected burpees and deadlifts (without heavy weights of course). Our three-year-old also flexes on cue pretty much anytime, anywhere. What’s more, working up a sweat may also improve your relationship with your partner. Exercise releases endorphins, reduces stress levels, improves sleep and boosts energy.