Shape up the family

Mar 19, 2010 at 1:34 p.m. ET

It's not easy to find time to keep yourself in good shape when you've got kids to care for. But it is important to take care of yourself, so change your thinking a little. Instead of compartmentalizing exercise into something you need to do alone each day, why not look into activities the whole family can do together? Here's a list of ideas to get you started.

Walk your kids to school.

Skip the carpool and get in the habit of walking your kids to school -- and home again in the afternoon. Can't possibly fit both into your schedule? Start with just one way. You're also making your footprint a little bit greener, and you'll have a few extra minutes to enjoy your kids and transition into the next phase of your day.

Head to the playground.

Grab a ball or a Frisbee -- or just lace up your sneakers -- and get outside with your kids. You can find plenty of playground workouts listed online, or create your own. You and your kids will benefit. Time it right, and Dad can join in after work -- or sneak in a weekend "workout" for the whole family to enjoy.

Take a hike -- together.

Plan a weekend outing for your family. Hike a nearby nature trail. Take a picnic lunch and make a day of the activity. Don't forget to bring a camera so you can take shots of wildflowers and any wild animals you spy.

Check out an exercise video.

Try searching your library's online database for a fitness DVD you can do with your kids. A tip: pick something you've never tried, whether it's yoga, Tae-Bo, or something else, and get a video designed specifically for kids. If you're new at the sport, a kid-friendly workout is a great way to dive in.

Tackle a home improvement project.

Get the whole family involved in prepping a room for repainting or even just cleaning and organizing the kitchen from top to bottom. Climbing up and down stepladders to reach cans, hauling bags of trash, and scrubbing windows may not be a traditional workout, but it will get your heart pumping. And the whole family can take pride in the redone room afterwards.

Challenge another family to a friendly game.

Pick a sport, any sport, and set a weekly date with another family to play. Basketball, softball, tennis, or whatever you all enjoy can be great group games. Keep the focus on fun rather than on competition, and make sure to include everyone.

With a little thought and creativity, you can create a whole family fitness plan that works for you -- and gives you a great workout.

More on keeping your family healty:

Fall fitness: Outdoor family activities

Tips to get healthy and fit with your family

Losing weight as a family