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Parents Who Exercise: Overcoming the Challenges

8 tips for staying active when you have kids.
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Exercise Tip for Parents No. 6: Set Goals

The very first step to staying fit or regaining fitness is to want it, say experts.

"Motivation comes from within," says Schoenfeld. "I can’t motivate someone if they don’t have a reason to do something."

Set short-term goals, says Schoenfeld, so as not to overwhelm yourself. If it’s four sizes you need to lose, start with one. If it’s 20 pounds, set a more manageable goal of 1-2 pounds per week.

Most people go too far and say, ‘I want to run a marathon,’" says Chipko. "That’s too big."

Goals have to be realistic, says Chipko: "If your goal is to look like Kelly Ripa or Angelina Jolie, your determination is going to be crushed if you work out and eat yogurt for a week and you don’t look like them."

Exercise Tip for Parents No. 7: Put In the Effort

Don’t expect to get fit overnight, warns Chipko. "It’s a matter of putting time in. Anything worth having is hard. There is work involved."

But, you say, fitting in work and everything needed to run a household is hard enough. Who needs the added pressure of squeezing in a workout?

The truth, Keller says, is that exercise will actually give you more energy to tackle the tasks always hanging over your head.

And somewhere along the line, says Chipko, exercise will become a habit.

"People always ask me how long it’s going to take," he says. "Everybody wants that quick fix."

It may take a month, it may take a year, he says, but when you reach a goal you set on your own, it’s much more rewarding.

Exercise Tip for Parents No. 8: Be a Role Model

Whether they admit it or not, kids look to their parents as role models.

"What you do has a huge effect on what they do," says Chipko, who works with youth from 9 to 18.

If you’re a couch potato, you may pass that trait on to your children. On the other hand, if kids grow up in a family where they walk the dog, hike, or go for bike rides, they will emulate that behavior, says Keller.

"When trying to teach kids discipline," says Chipko, "you as a parent should have some as well."

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Reviewed on September 24, 2013

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