Parents giving children piggyback ride on walk by lake

Family Fitness With Young Children

As a parent of young children, your time may not always feel like your own. Despite your best efforts, it may seem like there's always another mess to clean. Finding time to exercise ... well, let's just say it might not make it to the top of your to-do list.

But here's the thing: you don't have to choose between spending time with your children and physical fitness. Regardless of your current fitness level, there are ways to include your family in your active lifestyle, which ultimately sets a positive, healthy example for your kids.

Try these ideas for exercising if you have young children.

Fitness with a baby

  • Put your baby in a stroller and take a brisk walk. You'll get some exercise, your child will enjoy a change of scenery, and you'll both get some fresh air.
  • Invest in a jogging stroller. Once your child is old enough, a jogging stroller is a great way to pick up the pace and improve your cardiovascular fitness.
  • Check out upcoming walks, fun runs or races. See if your community or Morale, Welfare and Recreation program offers a stroller-friendly option.
  • Hike with a baby carrier. There are numerous options on the market that allow you to safely strap your child to your chest or back, so you can enjoy a hike.
  • Look for a parent and baby fitness class. Check with your installation's fitness center to see if it offers classes designed for parents with young children.

Fitness with a toddler or young child

Take a trip to the park. Visit the playground on your installation or find a park in your surrounding community where you and your child can run, climb, swing and jump.

  • Go for a bike ride. Attach a child's seat to your bike and get ready for a good time. Make sure you have the proper safety equipment (like a helmet) before you set out.
  • Rent sports equipment. Check with Morale, Welfare and Recreation on your installation to see what equipment is available if you aren't yet sure of your child's unique interests. This is a way to introduce your child to a wide range of sporting options without spending a lot.
  • Go bowling. Not only does bowling provide a great way to get some activity, but your installation's bowling alley may even offer a family discount.
  • Go for a swim. Spend an afternoon splashing around with your child and teaching them swimming basics, like floating and treading water. You can even check with Morale, Welfare and Recreation about swimming lessons.
  • Have a dance party. Fitness doesn't have to be a formal activity to be good for your body. Turn on some music and have a family dance party at home.

Remember, every little bit of activity counts — whether it's doing jumping jacks during television commercial breaks or playing a game of tag with your children in the backyard. Use whatever time and equipment you have at your disposal to prioritize your fitness while still spending time with your family. Not only will your family's health improve, but your children will learn the types of healthy habits that last a lifetime.

Check with Morale, Welfare and Recreation on your installation for a schedule of swimming lessons, or reach out to Health and Wellness Coaching for other ideas for family fitness activities.