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Parents Who Exercise: Overcoming the Challenges

8 tips for staying active when you have kids.

Exercise Tip for Parents No. 3: Define Your Priorities

Many athletes, celebrities, and those who just exercise for fitness and health have kids, says Chipko.

"It’s a matter of priorities," he says. "I have a 44-year-old mother of four who still finds time to exercise five days a week for 45 minutes."

When you’re stretched for time or crave a little time to yourself, Chipko says, it’s easy to go for the quick fix, like going shopping, stopping for a latte, or watching TV.

"Somewhere along the line you’re substituting a long-term goal for something short term," says Chipko. "In the long run, quick fixes are not going to benefit you."

Exercise Tip for Parents No. 4: Cultivate Social Support

Having a parent, a friend, or a neighbor to whom you can entrust the care of your children will pay dividends.

"A lot [of what happens with an exercise routine] depends on the opportunity [a parent] has to leave the child and do exercise outside the home," says Keller.

If you don't have family nearby, says Hull, "establish a network of friends that you trust and can trade off child care with."

Exercise Tip for Parents No. 5: Establish Family Fitness

If you want your children to know the value of fitness, exercise with them.

With infants and toddlers, go for brisk walks with the baby in the stroller, says Chipko. While they nap during the day, fit in some fitness --- like doing basic lunges, squats, push-ups, and crunches.

"These are all things that don’t require any equipment or space and don’t take a lot of time," Schoenfeld says.

With preschool to school-aged children, strive for family fitness. Go to the park, ride bikes, hike, and swim while the weather’s nice. In the winter, ice-skate, snowshoe, cross-country ski, or go sledding.

"Physical activity time also provides a great opportunity to talk with your kids," adds Keller. "But sometimes, just doing something with them is worth more than we realize." 

Bottom line?

"Your desire to be physically active with your child will usually force a creative solution to do so," says Keller. "You may be the only parent who is jogging around your kid's soccer practice field, but your kid will get used to it."

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