Active With Kids

It’s possible to keep fit despite the demands of parenthood. Having a child does not have to tether you to crib and playpen. You might have to change how and when you do your workouts but there’s no reason to completely cut workouts out of your life.

Note: this isn’t intended to be a guide for specific exercises. This is more a collection of suggestions for changing up your normal workout to include your growing family.


  Partner Up
Don't wait for nap time to squeeze your workout in. Work out with your partner while you pass the baby back and forth. The number of reps will depend on the baby's weight and your level of fitness. The number of smiles on your little one’s face while working out together – priceless :)

Biceps Curl with Shoulder Press
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, holding the baby with your elbows against your chest, with your forearms straight out in front of you. Curl baby up and in towards your  face. Slowly raise the baby straight up, keeping your elbows lined up below your hands. Slowly lower the baby until your elbows are against your chest, then keeping your elbows against your chest, lower the baby to the starting position. Repeat five to seven times.

Abominibal Abs
Do crunches while holding your baby to your chest or sitting on your stomach.

Lunges & Squats
Do lunges and squats with:

  • your baby in a child carrier (if can handle the extra weight)

  • your back straight or bent slightly forward

  • your knees bent so that they are no further in front of you than your toes

Glute Max
Try running up and walking down (running down stairs is hard on the knees) a flight of stairs a few times carrying a baby (for safety's sake use a child carrier) and you won't miss your step class one little bit!

Stay Flexibile
With your baby on the floor make your stretches into a game, leaning into and away from baby. Since my mind tends to blank out when I try to think of stretching exercises I thought I’d give you some links to a couple of stretching routines.

Real Simple magazine has six, well, real simple stretches with simple diagrams.

The Mayo Clinic also has a great stretching routine that will have you feeling great and your baby giggling.


Workout Strategies

Trade babysitting time with a friend and use your time to workout at the gym.

Use a jogging stroller to slip in a morning jog.

Attach a baby trailer to your bicycle.

Workout to an exercise video while your baby plays on the floor or in a playpen. You won't fail to amuse him/her.




With a toddler around, the world is your gym. Consider the following venues and then apply the same strategies to other places you frequent and activities you perform with your toddler.


While your toddler is tackling the slide you can be doing chin ups on the jungle gym.

While your little one is playing in the sandbox you can power-walk or jog the perimeter of the area.

Take a set of handheld weights and do strength training while "watching" (you know the refrain - "watch me", watch me!" "WATCH ME!!!").


They'll get on the floor right along with you and make entertaining attempts to imitate your workout routine.

They'll dance along as you follow your favorite aerobic video.

Jog around the back yard while keeping an eye on your kiddos, or do the strength training you were too embarrassed to do at the playground.

When they want me to "watch" I do in-place aerobics like a stationary bike, a step routine, run in place … while watching them skate, dance, practice baseball, etc.


Play chase (running in sand is killer for your leg muscles).

Toss a ball.

Dodge your child's attempts to get you wet with a squirt gun.

Race down to the water and back to the towel (over and over and over again) ...


Equipment On-line Fitness- direct link to their sports and fitness equipment page.

Total Gym - I love my Total Gym. It seems as if every exercise works my abs without even trying.

Bicycle Trailers for babies and toddlers.

Jogging Strollers make it easy to get a cardio walk or training run in.

Trailer Bikes are kid bikes without the front wheel. Instead, the front attaches to the parent's bike to make a passable tandem. 

Equipment Reviews
"I would not recommend biking with a child until the child's neck is strong enough to hold its head up while wearing an approved helmet. 14 months should be OK.
We purchased a trailer as well as a bike seat and used both often. It was no comparison, a trailer is by far more secure and pleasant for the child.
If you'll be switching it often between bikes, ease of attaching and detaching is something you should look for." 
by Jeff Cohen (

Full & Half Day Outings

  No matter how much you and your honey enjoy a long hike or bike ride, it's not going to happen very often if your progeny whine and complain. You may have to put more effort towards preparing for your outing than you've been used to doing, but it's well worth it if the little one(s) look forward to these adventures. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Make a map of the terrain you'll be covering. Mark points of interest for your children and places where they'll receive a treat. The treat could be a snack, the privilege of using a camera to take a picture, stopping to play a game of tag or climb a tree ...

Pack snacks that are special treats, or better yet, let your child pick a treat from the grocery store.

Buy disposable cameras that your chil(dren) can use to record their version of the day. Spend time later helping them make the pictures into a special book.

A cell phone can smooth the way for a reluctant teenager to spend an entire day away from friends. Fifteen minutes of talk time once or twice during the day can make the outing seem exotic, or at least do-able.

Take-along Food
  • filtered water or sports bottle with filtering top
  • Fruit, fresh & dried
  • trail mix
  • veggie sticks
  • nuts, raw or toasted
  • check out the health food section of your grocery store

Take-along Equipment Sports for reviews on equipment and gear. You can also purchase or get detailed info on equipment.

  All That Stuff
Since parents often carry extra stuff for the children (lunch, coat, snacks, toys, stuffed animals), a bike trailer gives you a place to stash it. When your child falls asleep, they'll be more secure in a trailer. Users seem to prefer trailers where the child faces forward; it makes it easier to keep track of what's happening, plus the child can see where they're going.

Trailers have two disadvantages however: 1) they're more expensive than a seat, and 2) they take space to store, although if you find some place to hang yours - problem solved.

Home Fitness Equipment

Getting to the gym can be a challenge once children become part of the equation. Investing in home exercise equipment can be just the thing that keeps you on your fitness track.

Depending on your activity you may need special equipment so that the kids can come along. Buying or borrowing safe, sturdy equipment such as backpack-style carriers and jogging strollers can help to keep you from missing your workouts. Whenever possible I like to borrow equipment so that I know what works and doesn't work for me before I invest in it. Also is a great places to get feedback from those who have bought and used the equipment you're considering. This site publishes bad reviews as well as accolades.


  • treadmill
  • glider
  • elliptical glider
  • jump rope
  • aerobic step
  • workout videos
  • jogging trampoline

Strength Training

  • Total Gym combines muscle strengthening, flexibility and aerobic conditioning into one machine!
  • BowFlex
  • rubber tubing or resistance bands
  • hand-held weights


  • bicycle seat
  • bicycle cart
  • jogging stroller
  • body-hugging baby carrier

Resources carries new and used workout and sports equipment. You'll also find unbiased consumer reviews - they publish both pro and con reviews.

Big Fitness - the place to go to find wholesale fitness equipment.

Sports Authority is one of the most recognized names in online sporting goods sales. You'll find top brand names - great customer service and knowledgable advice just like you would expect in The Sports Authority retail locations.

Tips & Tricks
"If you just lose weight and don't change your attitude along with your eating and exercise habits, you will gain the weight back." -Anne Fletcher, M.S., R.D., author of Thin for Life: 10 Keys to Success from People Who Have Lost Weight and Kept It Off

Save up all the bread crusts trimmed from children's lunches or your own fancy tea sandwiches. Trim the crusts off before making the sandwich and save in an airtight container (I prefer a large ziplock bag) stored in the freezer. When your container is full use your crusts to make bread pudding, stuffing, croutons, or bread crumbs.

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last revised October 24, 2014
Copyright Kathleane C. O'Leary 1997 all rights reserved
Void where prohibited. Keep hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.