Staying active with your toddler

Being a parent brings many joys and much happiness, but the reality is, it also comes with challenges. Let’s face it: everything changes when you become a parent. A lot of the pre-kid activities you used to participate in either become badly neglected or get put to the side. And for many busy parents, one of the first pre-kid activities to go is a regular exercise routine.

Even if you exercised consistently before starting a family, it can still be a real struggle to find ways to fit fitness into your new routine. On the other hand, having your kids exercise with you can help keep you healthy, and teach your children about the benefits of being active. Not only can it be a real time-saver, but research has shown that exposing kids to fitness at a young age has benefits that will last a lifetime. 

And in case you’re worried that falling down and getting back up is the only exercise you will ever be able to do with your toddler, read on for tips on how to adapt some of your favorite fitness activities to make them more kid-friendly.  

6 ways parents can be active with a toddler in tow

  • Running and walking: If your toddler likes to go on long walks, consider investing in a quality jogging stroller. They can ride in it while you run or walk, and every 15 minutes, you can let them get out and walk with you. You can also do lunges, squats, and push-ups during these 15-minute breaks and invite them to join you. They will love challenging you to a squat contest.
  • Bike riding: If you enjoyed biking before, then you’re probably eager to get back in the saddle and go for a ride. And if you’ve never been much into cycling, now might be the time to try it out. Once your child is 18 months old, they can try “riding” a balance bike, which is a two-wheeled pedal-less bike that teaches toddlers and preschoolers to balance on two wheels. They will love the freedom that comes with learning how to use this bike and you will benefit from exercising right alongside them.
  • Swimming: Time in the pool is a wonderful way for families to spend time together being active. Parent-child classes can help parents learn a few basics about swimming with a toddler. If you would like to get a more vigorous workout, you can also put some floaties on their arms or secure them in a flotation device so they can “swim” with you, under your close supervision.
  • Yoga: Yes, you can do yoga with your toddler. And they will love it! Consider starting with a parent-child class, where you can learn the basics and then practice the poses at home. Some safe poses for your two-year-old include child’s pose, downward facing dog, tree pose, butterfly pose, chair pose, and crescent moon pose.
  • Bodyweight exercises: Parents can do a quick 20-minute workout with a series of bodyweight exercises that toddlers will enjoy too. Squats, lunges, push-ups, stretching, bridges, high knees, jumping jacks and step-ups are just a few of the moves you can include in a circuit program. Challenge Baby to a contest to see who can do the most high-knees or take the workout outside or to a park. There are all kinds of ways to make exercise fun.
  • Sports and activities both parents and kids will love: Most sports and activities parents participate in as adults can be modified in order to play with a toddler. Soccer, obstacle courses, throwing balls, dancing, tennis, and gymnastics are all ways to spend time getting fit with your two-year-old.

About the author: 
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer focusing on parenting, health, and wellness. She is passionate about all things fitness and health and loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and son. 

  • Kathryn R. Hesker, et al. “Activity Levels in Mothers and their Preschool Children.” Pediatrics. March 2014. Retrieved July 14 2017.
  • Sara Lindberg has over 20 years experience working in the health and fitness field and has been writing about fitness for parents and children for the past two years.
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