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Fitness for the whole family: ditch ‘workouts’ for ‘playouts’!

By: Tamara Grand. Visit her blog at: http://www.fitknitchick.com connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Parents of young children often complain about not having enough time for exercise.
With busy work schedules, daycare and preschool drop offs, cooking, cleaning, laundry and children’s activities, getting to the gym for their own workout often drops to the bottom of the very long ‘to-do’ list.
Instead of abandoning exercise until junior is old enough to drive himself to work, why not exchange ‘workouts’ for family ‘playouts’?
You don’t need to go to a gym or a fitness class to reap the benefits of exercise. No fancy equipment is required. Best of all, you’ll be spending time with your family while you get your sweat on and teaching your children the enjoyment of movement!

For families with children 3 and under:
•    Take a hike. There are dozens of local stroller-friendly trails. Try the Pitt Meadows dikes or Port Moody’s shoreline trail. Strap baby or toddler into a snuggly or backpack and you’ve automatically increased the physical challenge of the outing for yourself.
•    Pull a trailer. My children loved long rides in the bike trailer. Make a local playground or beach your destination. Pack a few snacks to nibble en route. Power up your bike for a great cardiovascular workout with kids in tow!
•    Channel your inner monkey. Playgrounds offer more than just a place for little ones to slide and swing and climb. Use the monkey bars to practice chin-ups. Use the park benches for pushups and tricep dips. Race with your children from one end of the park to the other. Sprinting is a great way to burn fat and improve cardiovascular fitness.
For families with children older than three and younger than 10:
•    Dive into the water. Head to a local pool and strengthen your arms and legs while you play. Climb the stairs to the slide again and again. Tread water while your children play with the pool noodles. Sneak in a few laps, if they’re old enough to be in the water on their own.
•    Get vertical. Climb a mountain (or a least a small hill). Minekhada, Buntzen Lake and Belcarra Regional Park all have trails with moderate inclines.
•    Strap on those skates. Local skating arenas all have family and public skate times. While you zip around the rink, you’ll be strengthening your core and improving your balance.
•    Rent a kayak. Rather than exploring the shoreline from terra firma, rent a kayak and get up close to nature in a different way. Double kayaks can be rented on an hourly basis at both Rocky Point Park and Belcarra. Paddling is a great upper body exercise, working arms, shoulders and back with every stroke.
Once your children reach the age of 7 or 8, you’ll be much less limited in the kinds of activities you can enjoy together. Rock climbing, daylong hikes, geo-caching, running the local bike path while your children scooter or bicycle at your side (although mine tend to race on ahead, leaving me working hard to catch up!).
Family fitness time is a great way to stay connected with your kids and ensure they value exercise as much as you do! What are you waiting for? Plan a playout with your children today!

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