People decide on fitness as a lifestyle choice for a variety of reasons. No matter the impetus, or the time-frame, a commitment to fitness, as a family, is wonderful and can be a fantastic, positive parenting tool for creating healthy children, too! While recent statistics show levels of childhood obesity appear to be leveling off to some degree, America is still on an upward trend in BMI (Body Mass Index), consumption of processed foods, and Type II Diabetes. Modeling healthy lifestyle choices, including regular aerobic exercise and strength training, just like modeling all independent behaviors, will instill in a child an intrinsic understanding of the link between healthy choices and overall wellness.

The trouble is, of course, that once a child enters the picture, fitness becomes at best an uphill battle of time, energy, and focus. How does a new mom or dad find the time to do a 40 minute kettlebell workout, or run for an hour, on three hours of sleep and a workday? The best intentions in the world can fly out the window when staring down the barrel of an alarm clock set an hour earlier in favor of a traditional gym-centered workout.

Luckily, in the information age new parents don’t need to reinvent the wheel! YouTube abounds with videos featuring the latest exercise trends, and a host of resources for on-the-spot strength exercises that can be incorporated into a daily routine, using kitchen chairs, resistance bands, and even groceries and small children as weights. These “at home” regimens stress that fitness need not be confined to a block of time, but can be incorporated throughout a busy parent’s day.

Cardiovascular exercise, however, may be a bit more difficult, and experts agree that it is crucial to lose weight, oxygenate tissue, and regulate metabolism. Getting outside is the simplest way, a walk, or a jog, around the block or in a favorite park will elevate heart rate, and an elevated but safe heart rate is the goal in cardio. Tow young children in a wagon or put toddlers or infants into a jogging stroller. Cyclists can get towable wagon-like additions to tow on the back of a bicycle. The children will get much needed outdoor time (experts now agree that a minimum of 20 minutes of sun exposure a day is a necessary component to create vitamin D in the human body), and the parents can work in their workout without guilt.v