10 Ways to Get Baby Psyched About Fitness From the Time He Can Walk (or Earlier!)

Little boy with fathers help catch up on the horizontal bar, active childhood, cute small acrobat, workout on backyard, summer camp concept

When it comes to a child's health, there are so many benefits of exercise -- and I'm not talking about trying to squeeze into a prom dress or get ready for baseball season. Children need active play, including opportunities to raise their heart rate and enjoy some physical activity.

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With 2-year-old and 7-month-old boys, I'm a firm believer in starting health practices sooner rather than later. Should you be in the same boat, here are some ways to get your little ones interested in fitness.

1. Play in your backyard. My kids think the backyard is the coolest place ever! We try to steal moments throughout the week to enjoy it. We run, hop, skip, jump -- whatever comes to mind. If you don't have a backyard, utilize your neighborhood park or sidewalks. Running and walking are easy, fun ways to stay active together.

2. Try a Mommy & Me fitness class. Yoga. Barre. Stroller workouts. Babywearing ballet. There are tons of parent/child classes that promote exercising together (and you don't need to hire a sitter!).

3. Encourage playdates. I think it's safe to assume that young children naturally want to move and jump around. This is why I love playdates with other kids -- including the free learn and play events at my local library. They allow your child to socialize, learn new skills, and, more importantly, have the freedom to be the active beings that they are.

4. Take your toddler to the gym with you. Okay, so obviously I don't mean your tot needs to help you rack weights -- or spot you during sets. I take my kids with me to the gym, and they play in the children's area while I work out. Since I've been doing it, I'm starting to see my 2-year-old become more interested in what Mommy does, since the kids room has windows that look out onto the facility.

5. Use your child in your fitness routine. Whether you jog with your toddler around the park or use him or her as a weight (you'll grunt, but kids think it's hilarious), certain workouts will prove to be very child-friendly. In fact, there are plenty of mommies in the fitness game who record themselves using their kids in workouts you can try at home.

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6. Let your little tag along to a sports practice or match. Monkey see, monkey want to do. So long as it's okay with the team (or facility), let your toddler sit on the side -- obviously with some supervision -- as you, or an older child, practice. Cheering on a loved one during a game or match shows both team spirit and how fun physical activity can be.

7. Participate in a charity event or race. Feel like giving a 5K a try? Depending on the course, you can take your toddler with you! I've seen tons of parents walk or run with their children in strollers.

8. Create family obstacle courses. I have friends who are parents and fitness lovers; they hold a monthly "Family Fitness Competition" in their backyard. It's nothing serious -- and definitely doesn't conjure up thoughts of being in the Hunger Games -- but it is a huge hit in their household, especially among their kids. It's pretty funny to see teens and tots try to do jumping jacks, push-ups, and a three-legged dash. For the record, there are no awards.

9. Get them involved in meeting your daily step goals. Can I be honest? I have a pedometer, and I am a little obsessed with it -- so much that I might walk around my kitchen and living room to meet my daily goal. I can almost guarantee that my boys will dash (or crawl) around the house with me. Oh yes, fitness can be a game.

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10. "Race" your kids. My husband loves getting the mail with our 2-year-old and started challenging him to a run to the front door. At first, our little guy would just look at his feet and walk. Now, he kinda realizes the importance of being hasty, and will sometimes chase after his dad.

No matter what you do, just have fun with it.

 

 

Image via Anna Omelchenko/Shutterstock

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