July 29, 2015 4:32 pm

6 Unexpected Ways to Workout While You’re Hanging With Your Kids

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Squats on the playground? Ab crunches during movie time? It can be challenging to fit in workouts when you’re playing and entertaining your kids. Here are six creative ways I turn playtime into workout time with my daughters.

It’s Monday and I am still reveling in the time I spent with Emilia and Francesca this weekend. I have always believed that health, wellness and exercise start at an early age. For Emilia and Francesca, it started with our daily “dance sessions.” When they were just three months old, our daily ritual was when I got home from work, I would lay them on their backs, put on some fun music, and dance around them. They quickly caught on, and before long, their arms and legs were moving to the music! This was followed by crawling — Francesca, backward, Emilia, forward. By eleven months, they were off and running and they haven’t slowed down! I start this article with these few beautiful reflections to support the notion that children quite naturally, start “exercising” the moment they start moving their bodies. Exercise does not have to exist in the gym to be effective. Taking this notion, I have always looked for moments — walking, taking the scooter or bicycle to school, walking to Whole Foods or the trip to the local playground — as moments of movement. 

This past weekend, Emilia, Francesca and I decided it was time to take off the training wheels of their bicycles! Fully protected by elbow and knee pads, bike gloves, and their requisite helmets, we set out on our way. I’m happy to say, despite a couple of balance moments, they both were unscathed. Then, it was off to the monkey bars where they like challenging themselves and each other with their upper body strength and agility. From there, they went to the jungle gym and “organically” did handstands. We finished the day with a crazy dance-off to the Katy Perry and Bruno Mars tunes.

I share my personal experiences with you as a way to illustrate how easy it is to get your children “engaged” and moving. Emilia, Francesca and I do our fair share of pushups, squats, lunges and running, but all done in a non-threatening, fun and inclusive way. My advice to parents out there — turn off the television; limit the time on iPads, video games, and television, and start moving with your children. If they see you do it, they are more likely to want to do it. Making movement a daily ritual is the first step towards becoming a healthier more active family. 

As with my clients, there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach. Find the things your child likes to do. Emilia loves dancing, Francesca excels at tennis; they both like swimming and attacking the monkey bars.

You can’t “force” fitness on children (or adults for that matter). I have always found the best way to encourage is by example. I am not going to say that it always works. There are those days when we succumb to taxis instead of walking. None of us are perfect — we don’t need to be. The key is striving to be your best and make healthy choices a daily ritual.

This summer, Emilia and Francesca are going to summer camp — a day of outdoor activities including swimming, rope climbing, soccer mixed with science, art and robotics. Again the concept of exercise/movement — mind and body — is being stressed in a fun, engaging and non-threatening environment. 

So, whether it’s pushups, squats, or lunges at my gym, the playground, or in the house; swimming at camp; or walking the farmer’s market, there are a myriad of ways to get your kids moving. The time is now! Let’s make fitness/wellness/movement a part of our daily lexicon and rituals.

This post taken from David’s blog at huffingtonpost.com

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