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Learn to exercise with your kids

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Physical activity for the whole family

Short on time and low on inspiration? Try fun activities that get you and your kids moving together. When you're having fun, you're far more likely to stick with your exercise routine. Best of all, your children will learn to love being active.
Family Exercise

For many busy parents, it can be difficult to carve out time to spend at the gym or work out at home. With work, homework and extra-curricular activities on the agenda, workouts can start to feel like yet another task monopolizing family time. Develop fitness routines that get your kids in on the action, and you'll feel more inspired to work out while teaching your kids the importance of physical activity.

Make it Mandatory

If you make excuses to not work out, your kids will listen to you and they'll hear that it's okay to prioritize other activities over fitness. Schedule regular time to play, regardless of the activities you choose to do as a family. Try putting a schedule on the refrigerator where everyone can see. If you go on a family bike ride every Sunday or have a dance party every Wednesday evening, write it down and stick to it.

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Lift Your Moods Together

Your whole family can benefit from unwinding through physical activity. Steve Ettinger, certified fitness expert and author of children's book Wallie Exercises, stresses the benefits of fitness for kids.

"Regardless of whether or not a child is overweight, physical activity has been shown to have positive effects on school performance and mood," Ettinger explains. "By encouraging activity from a young age and making it fun, kids will develop positive associations and will be more likely to continue on their own."

Create Fun Ways to Work Out

Family fitness doesn't have to happen in a league or a gym. "You don't have to get fancy to make family fitness fun," Ettinger says. "Something as simple and classic as a hike or bike ride is a perfect way to introduce kids to regular activity while enjoying quality family time."

Teach age-appropriate sports skills out in the yard or do some light, fun aerobics inside to music. While you don't want to rely on video games all the time, it's okay to devote some of your family fitness time to playing interactive dancing and sports games that get kids moving.

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Establish Healthy Habits for the Whole Family

ClimbingPhysical fitness benefits your family now and benefits your kids later. "Getting kids involved, and more importantly excited, about fitness at an early age helps promote positive, active behaviors later in life," Ettinger explains. This is a crucial time to get kids off the computer and outside. If you have older kids or teens, consider a group membership at a climbing gym or join a dodge ball league together.

As you make memories and help your kids develop healthy habits, you'll find yourself far less reluctant to get moving and improve your own health.

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