Sometimes just having a toddler is enough to keep fit. Have you ever tracked how many miles a day you log just chasing your kids around to take gross things out of their mouths or catching them before they take a header down the stairs? Trying to fit in a “real” fitness routine can seem daunting, exhausting or downright impossible.
Well, the key is to stop trying. Right now your toddler’s life is all about having fun, and your fitness routine should reflect that. Instead of trying to carve out time away from your child to exercise, include them in your exercise routine and focus on making it fun for both of you. Here are seven tips for staying fit with a toddler in tow:
1. Get a Jogging Stroller
Taking your kid along in the stroller while you jog is a great way to get fit and keep your child both entertained and contained. Even if you’re just walking, you’ll both benefit from the fresh air, and your child will get to take in all the sights, sounds and smells of the neighborhood. As your child gets older, transition them into walking or running with you, and you’ll both have a healthy hobby you can do together.
2. Dance It Out
Music is good for both you and your baby in so many ways. Music helps with cognitive development in children, and it relieves stress for parents. Dancing it out is a great way to get your heart rate up and to share a few laughs with your littles. The movement will help kids explore their bodies in motion and can help you shed a few pounds. So get silly and bust a move!
3. Hit the Playground
The playground offers an entire gym’s worth of exercise equipment! Monkey bars can be pull up bars, and steps can be used for jump ups. Instead of sitting on the bench watching your kids play, use it for triceps dips. How about that see-saw? It has squats written all over it. You can also hop on the balance beam and hold your core tight to work that tummy. You’ll be the coolest (and hottest) mom in town for taking your kid to the playground every day.
4. Floor Exercises
You know as soon as you get in plank position, your little one will be crawling under you. That’s ok! Use your child as part of your routine, and make it fun for them to interact with you. A plank hold is now the London Bridge. See how many times your toddler can crawl under you before London Bridge falls down. Let your child sit on your feet while you do abdominal crunches. The more they wiggle, the better your workout!
5. Go Swimming
Kids love to go swimming, and exercising in the water makes for a good work out for you. Water aerobics, for instance, offer low impact movements that work for any fitness level. See if you can find a Mommy and Me water aerobics class near you. These classes are specially designed for you to incorporate your child into the exercise routines.
6. Go for a Bike Ride
If running isn’t your thing but you want to exercise outside, go for a bike ride. Child trailers attach to the back of your bike and give your child a safe way to tag along on your ride. Just like with jogging, you and your child will experience the benefits of being outdoors. When your child gets old enough to move up from the trailer, try a trailer-bike. Of course, your child can also work on riding their own bike, too.
7. Monkey on Your Back
If you loved to go hiking and explore the outdoors before you had kids, don’t let that slow you down now. Get a child carrier backpack designed for hiking, and put that little monkey on your back. Long walks in the woods will do wonders for both you and your child’s mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Your child will learn so much observing nature, and being outside will create opportunities for dialogue that wouldn’t otherwise come up indoors.
Having kids doesn’t spell the end of your workout days. The options for exercising with your toddler in a way that is beneficial to both of you are vast and varied. Fitness should always be fun, and if you introduce it to your toddler in the right way now, you’ll likely have a lifetime partner to help you reach your fitness goals.
Jennifer Landis is a 27-year-old healthy living blogger who loves yoga, running, and dancing it out with her toddler! You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama, or by following her on Twitter: @jenniferelandis.