Making Fitness Part of the Family

Making FItness Part of the FamilyWhen you have small children, incorporating the entire family into a fitness regime can seem downright daunting. Here are a few tricks that can make getting active a lot easier.

Start with the Basics but be open to new challenges

The more comfortable you are with the intended activity, the more open your kids will be to giving it a try. Hiking beginner trails, going on nature walks, and swimming together are all great places to start moving as a family. Many places that offer swim lessons also have open family nights where everyone can get in the pool. If you have younger children, start small and work up to bigger and better. There are a lot of great road races that allow you to run with a stroller as well as beginning fun runs that are a mile or less.  If you are trying something new, don’t be intimidated, but do your research so you know what you will need in order to make your adventure successful.

Have the necessary equipment

If you are looking to try an activity like running, biking, or hiking, chances are you will need some equipment. If you are just starting out and don’t want to spend a lot of money, there are many places that offer used sports equipment. You can also look for great deals at actual garage sales or online yard sale sites. Getting things secondhand will allow you to try different activities or equipment without the commitment. When I first had my son I wasn’t sure I would enjoy my regular runs with baby in tow but I wanted to give it a shot. I ended up finding a great secondhand jogger that was just as good as brand new.

Be realistic in your expectations

Incorporating fitness as a unit should be focused on the kids and not necessarily the adults. The actual pace and intensity will obviously be limited with young children, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be fun. If you look at this time as furthering your children’s fitness curiosity rather than your personal workout time, there will be fewer frustrations. I often run while my son bikes ahead of me. I’ve learned to count this as a bonus workout for the day but also a great time to reconnect. There are days where we make it three miles, and there are days we only make it to the end of the block. Try not to set parameters on how far or how fast, but simply enjoy the time with your family.

Have fun!

Much like a child, have an open mind and an open heart when it comes to family fitness. Being together is priceless and the memories you will be creating will last a lifetime.

Tessa Wesnitzer is a mother of two preschool-aged boys and a personal trainer who lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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