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Ideas for Family Fun

The key is to pick an activity that will work for everyone. The simplest option is to take a family walk, jog, or bike ride (using a backpack, jogging stroller, or kiddie seat for the youngest family members).

Experts agree that if you keep exercise fun and varied, you're more likely to keep at it. So here are some other suggestions:

  • Bond with baby. Many gyms and rec centers offer fitness programs designed for new mothers and their babies. For some, you place the baby beside you on a mat and include him or her in some of the exercises. For others, baby stays in a stroller.

    If you're more comfortable exercising at home, Archer suggests using your infant as a prop or weight during floor exercises (you can find some exercise videos that demonstrate this). For example, put the baby on your chest and do gentle crunches.
  • Get wet. People often think the pool is only for doing laps, but there are lots of ways to exercise in the water. Diving, doing headstands, and playing Marco Polo are all ways of getting exercise while having fun with your family. In a private pool, you can set up a net for a game of volleyball.
  • Play time. Keep the focus on fun when you're exercising, says Archer. Try playing games that incorporate movement, such as Simon Says, Capture the Flag, hopscotch, jump rope, Hide and Seek, even water gun fights. With younger kids, head for a playground and climb the monkey bars, zip down the slides, hit the swings, and play chase.
  • Boogie down. Lots of kids like to dance, and it can be great exercise, too. Archer says both parents and children take hip-hop dance classes at the Stanford Prevention Research Center where she works. If you're shy, just crank up the tunes in the privacy of your home and groove around the living room.
  • Stretch it out. If you're not big on dancing, try a yoga video or "mommy and me" yoga class. With their natural flexibility, many kids are good at yoga. It also can help relieve stress, so it's great for mom and dad, too.
  • Make tracks. Older kids might enjoy running or brisk walking, but if that bores them, try climbing, hiking, or rollerblading. If you live in an area that offers scenic places to hike, you won't even notice you're exercising (pack a healthy picnic to have at the end of the trail and bring plenty of water). Younger kids can ride their tricycles or bikes around a community track while you walk or jog.
  • Be a sport. Taking up a sport can add a whole new dimension to your family fun, whether it's tennis, volleyball, or just a driveway basketball showdown. Consider taking lessons together if you're new to the sport. "Martial arts [are] a great cross-generational activity," Archer says.

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