Busy parents know a lot about multitasking. Getting your kids off to school with the right shoes, lunch and homework folders while still managing to squeeze in a workout and getting yourself to the office on time is nothing short of an art form. So it makes sense to get a little creative with your schedule and maybe even bring the kids into your workout from time to time.
“My kids are 12 and 9, and they’ve been working out with me since they were very little,” says Angela Lemond, an RDN who specializes in pediatric nutrition. “The key is to keep it fun instead of discussing things such as burning calories or losing weight. We don’t want to build into them that this is the main reason we challenge our bodies.”
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In honor of International Walk to School Day on October 5, here are five ways to incorporate walking and fitness into family activities and promote healthy lifestyles for everyone.
Take an Evening Stroll
Walking to school is an obvious way to move and spend time with your kids, but if that doesn’t work, schedule walks before or after dinner as a family. Even if it’s just a quick walk around the block, upping your step count while you catch up on your days is a win-win.
Walk the Dog
Several studies show that having a dog can boost your overall fitness level and aid weight loss. If you want to get the kids moving with you, treat Fido to an extra long walk. An hour spent walking the dog as a family will burn about 250 calories.*
Explore the Neighborhood
Even if you don’t have a pet, you can still encourage your kids to stay active by exploring local running trails together. “My kids go on runs with me through our neighborhood trails,” says Lemond. “The cool thing about being fit-minded as parents is your kids naturally want to do what you (the parents) do.”
Do a Charity Race
Get the family and a few friends to sign up for a weekend 5K or 10K walk or run. Not only will you get a great bonding experience — and probably a cool medal — but you’ll also cross your weekend workout off the to-do list. Just keep the race short and kid-friendly. “As an avid runner and mom myself, I do not believe my 12 year old would be wanting to run a half-marathon just for fun. But if she were running, walking and socializing with her friends along the way, that may be different,” says Jessica Crandall, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Turn Commercials into Fitness Breaks
Back-to-school season also means the return of your favorite fall TV shows. Rather than spending an hour being inactive, turn each commercial break into a mini workout for the family. Walk around the house, or do a circuit of lunges, jumping jacks, planks or bear crawls during each commercial. “More than ever, people are working out in the comfort of their own home, whether it be a virtual Pilates class or even a HIIT workout on a cool fitness app,” says Lemond.
*according to MyFitnessPal data for a 150-pound adult
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