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MOVE

Eight tips for being active with young kids

Four years ago, you would have found me at the gym nearly every day. Then my son came. Suddenly I found myself trying to fit naps into my day instead of trips to the gym. Days continued to slip by where my husband and I would talk about getting back to the gym or out for a run, but didn't do anything to prioritize fitness in our new lives as parents. 

My "ah ha" moment came one day when one of my patients asked me when I was expecting my second child. I wasn't pregnant. That was the motivation I needed. Together, my husband and I came up with a plan to start making fitness a priority in our lives again. Here's how:

Female picking up laundy

#1 Fit in activity all day
When you have kids, it becomes more difficult to fit in structured exercise, like going to the gym. Regular household chores like laundry, vacuuming and picking up toys are a good way to stay active throughout your day. In fact, this non-exercise activity is actually emerging as a key way to staying healthy. I wear a Fitbit to help me track my activity and stay accountable throughout the day. 

Mom exercising with toddler in foreground

#2 Shorten your workouts
Who says you have to work out for one hour? Look for opportunities to work out when and where you can. Try working in a 15 minute walk or run during your lunch break or your child's athletic practice. Do squats and lunges while brushing your teeth. After my son goes to bed, I like to watch my favorite show while running on the treadmill.

Women in spin class

#3 Make exercise a priority
When you do have a little "me" time, resist the urge to relax with a latte and use the time for exercise instead. Once a week I get to a yoga or Pilates class. This helps me feel good about myself and gives me energy to keep up with my son. 

Family biking

#4 Turn fitness into a family effort
When you include your child in fitness you'll find you have more time for exercise. Together you can go on hikes, swimming, ice skating or sledding. On evenings when it is nice enough, my son and I walk or ride our bikes about one mile to the park. Other nights you'll find us dancing for 15-20 minutes before dinner. 

Couple doing push ups

#5 Build a support network
Having someone who supports and motivates you can make a big impact on your success. Having a support network made up of your partner, friends or colleagues can help you create more opportunities to fit in an exercise session. My husband continues to be my biggest supporter and motivator for staying active. 

Female holding scale

#6 Set goals
Make small realistic goals to keep yourself motivated. It can be a weight loss goal of one pound a week, a pant size a month or 10,000 steps a day. As you reach each goal, allow yourself to celebrate your accomplishment then set another goal. 

Mother and daughter lacing up tennis shoes

#7 Be a role model
Remember your child is watching your every move. Teach your child a lifetime of healthy habits with every workout, hike or bike ride.

Female working up a sweat

#8 Put in the effort
Fitness takes a lot of hard work. Realize you will have to put in the effort in order to achieve the benefits of exercise. But when you do you will gain the energy that makes taking care of kids easier and more enjoyable. You're likely to feel better both physically and mentally, which makes the work all worth it.

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