Discusses challenges of being a new parent and continuing to exercise. Covers amount of exercise needed for health and why it's important. Also offers tips on how to fit exercise into daily routine at home, at parks or playgrounds, and gyms.
Fitness: Staying Active When You Have Young Children
who are very determined to keep up their healthy habits can lose them after
they have children. Youngsters can demand so much of your time that you barely
have time to breathe, let alone be physically active.
are ways to stay active that don't require a lot of extra time. You just need
to figure out how to work activity into the other parts of your life.
You want to do either 2½ hours of moderate or 1¼ hours of vigorous activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like brisk walking or shooting baskets. Vigorous activity includes things like jogging, cross-country skiing, or
playing a basketball game.
Having a young child doesn't leave you much time for yourself. There are ways to get active as a family. Or you can get your exercise in small
chunks. Three 10-minute periods of activity spread throughout the day are just
as good as one 30-minute period. Find the time that works best for you and your
When your child is asleep
This is a good time to look to your own needs and your own health.
Getting in some activity while your child is napping, or after he or she has
gone to bed for the night, may work best for you.
If you can afford to buy a treadmill or an
exercise bicycle, this is the time to hop on. Watch your favorite TV show to
make the time go faster. Or read a book or magazine while you exercise.
If exercise equipment is not in your budget, try an exercise DVD.
You can check them out for free at your local library. Or watch your favorite
TV show while you jump rope, do stretching exercises, or do yoga. Use cans of
food as hand weights. Or try exercising with
rubber tubing or resistance bands.
Certain chores—like washing
windows or floors—count as moderate activity, because they raise your heart
rate and make you breathe faster.
For chores that don't raise your heart rate, like running the
vacuum or dusting, turn on some music and dance while you do them.
When your child is awake
When young children are awake and active, you may find it easier if you
break your physical activity into little chunks of time. The key is to think of
ways to make your child part of that activity.
Do stomach crunches with your baby on your
belly or your thighs. Or lift your baby up and down as you lie on your back.
You can find lots of other exercises like this on the Internet or at the
Turn up the music, and dance around the house. Children
love to dance and will happily join you.
Take your children outside
while you garden. Use a stroller or playpen if you need to.
In the neighborhood:
Go for a walk. Get a backpack or stroller
so your very young child can go with you on walks. Check online for
stroller-friendly fitness or walking programs in your area. There are websites, such as www.seemommyrun.com, that help parents find or start local
stroller-pushing groups or running or walking groups.
your children ride their bikes around the neighborhood, jog alongside
If it's in your budget, get a trailer for your bicycle so
that you can take your child (toddler age or older) with you on bike rides.
Look carefully into the
safety features of bike trailers before you buy.
Babies aren't strong enough to handle
the bumpy ride in a bike trailer. When children are old enough to run or climb,
which may not be until about age 2, they are probably strong enough to ride in
a bike trailer.
Children in bike trailers should wear
At the park or playground:
Instead of sitting on the park bench while
your children play, walk or run laps around the play area. You can still keep
an eye on the kids.
Join your child on the playground. Swinging
from the monkey bars is great for shoulders and upper body
If your child plays on a soccer or T-ball team, walk or
run laps around the field during practice and during games. If you need to be
close enough to cheer, pace up and down the sidelines.
like tag, hide and seek, and catch with your kids.
At the gym or community center:
Join an exercise or swim
class for parents and kids.
Find a gym or center that has child care so that you can
exercise on your own.
Share babysitting duties with your spouse,
another relative, or a neighbor. That way, you'll each get some time for
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.