<span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>My son Dariusz is 3. These days, I can’t get him to do much of anything without a reward or consequence attached– with one exception. You guessed it: Play. <span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>

<span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>What I’ve realized is that my definition of working out is basically Dariusz’s definition of playing. If I decide to sneak in a few pushups while he’s playing with his Legos, he rushes over to join me.  And if I take out my “toys” (foam roller, Swiss ball, BOSU, etc.), his eyes light up like it’s Christmas morning.

And then there’s my 5-month-old, Mateusz. He giggles hysterically if I raise him overhead, loves being my “weighted vest” in the baby carrier, and is fascinated by the mirror in my workout room.

<span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>Granted, neither Dariusz nor Mateusz would ever allow me to do a formally structured workout. But that’s not the point. The point is, my kids actually want me to move. They won’t let me fold a basket of laundry, they interrupt if I try to have a phone conversation, they insist on uncleaning every mess I clean, but WOW, are they supportive of my workouts.

<span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>I won’t speak for teenagers, but I have a feeling that most kids are the same—they do want their parents to move with them. You can call it a workout, they’ll call it play, but it all comes down to purposeful movement.

<span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>You might be thinking, “Well that sounds nice in theory, but I can’t just start doing lunges in the living room.”

<span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>Why not?

<span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>Why not do lunges in YOUR OWN house? And why not also challenge your kids to a game of hot lava? Why not teach your kids how to squat (or better yet, take some inspiration from them!) or show them what a burpee looks like?

I am not just trying to be creative or prove a point when I say that work out with my kids almost every day. Sometimes, they initiate the workout, sometimes I do.

<span “font-family:calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:major-latin;=”” mso-hansi-theme-font:major-latin”=””>It’s easier than you think. Here are 20 ideas to get started.

  1. Go to a park and play “Follow the Leader.” Let your kid challenge you to the monkey bars!
  2. Take turns picking an animal, acting out how it moves and guessing what each other’s animal is. Crawl, hop, slither, etc.
  3. Put your tot in the jogging stroller, give him a picture-list of things to find and go on a scavenger-hunt run.
  4. Wear your infant in a front carrier and do some basics squats and lunges.
  5. Take a large cardboard box and have your kid sit inside. Push the box across the yard and then pull it back to where you started. You can also do this with a sled or indoors with a laundry basket.
  6. Get on your hands and knees and crawl around with your baby.
  7. Set up a field day in your backyard, with events such as long jump, shuttle run, wheelbarrow races, etc.
  8. Just start doing bodyweight exercises and let your kids join you.
  9. Have a dance party.
  10. Take a deck of cards and designate each suit to be a certain exercise. Take turns drawing a card and performing the exercise for the number of reps indicated on the card.
  11. Kick a soccer ball around in the backyard.
  12. Play a fitness game or sport on Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect.
  13. Lie your baby on the floor and do kissing pushups over her.
  14. Actually get into playing superheroes with your toddler. Jump, crawl, run, fly, you name it!
  15. Play Marco Polo in the swimming pool.
  16. Wear your infant in a carrier and find a building with lots of stairs. Sing silly songs as you go up and down the stairs.
  17. Play tag.
  18. Go to a trampoline park.
  19. Run alongside your preschooler while he rides on his scooter.
  20. Hold a plank and challenge your toddler to knock you over.