Whole Living Gal

Creative Family Exercise

I have a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old, so the reality of my winter is starting to sink in. It takes forever – I mean forever – to get out the door. And yesterday, when we did actually get bundled up and into the van, my 8mo was screaming and clearly needed to nurse. So in my tramped, jackets off, boots off, and back inside.

And while I value fresh air and getting out of the house, this winter is just not my winter to plan on it much, especially since we live in Michigan.

So I’ve developed some creative ways to exercise this winter with my small children – everything from stretching and toning to getting my heart-rate up…and some suggestions to get out of the house, too.

1. Thanks to Mamavation, I am inspired to do jumping jacks. I thought this was lame, then I did 50, and my heart-rate was up and my legs felt like they actually got a workout. And my girls get really into it, too. Once dinner is going and managing itself, I move into the living room and do 50 of these – and sometimes we revisit it again once my husband gets home.

2. Yoga during playtime. When my girls are in the living room sorting through toys, this is the time I get down with them and strike some yoga poses. And I love to see how my 2-year-old interprets her own “down dog” and “cobra.” Hilarious!

3. Use babies as weights. This is more for my husband, actually, but it’s a good idea. He will put a toddler or a baby (sometimes both – what a man!) on his back and do push-ups. Babies are also great for squats and sit-ups.

4. Make up an active indoor game. Think back to your gym-class days and get creative. Here’s a game we like to play: Fill a basket with stuffed animals at one end of the room. Place an empty basket at the other. One person runs to get a stuffed animal and then runs to place it in the empty basket (until it is full of stuffed animals). With older children, you could time eachother and see who gets the best time.

5. Get outside! Fresh air can energize you. For me, I hate that I have no REASON to go outside. For this, I am thinking of getting some chickens. But since I’m not a farmer, I can happily stay inside the walls of my house all.day.long. It does take effort to get bundled up (I count this as a workout, too), but even to get outside for 10 or 20 minutes – this makes a world of difference.

6. Dance Party! This is an almost-nightly ritual in our house. We pump up the music (which we now have to censor…ehem…Black Eyed Peas) and dance! It’s energizing, gets the heart-rate up and is just downright fun to dance to good music.

7. Visit a big store. Sometimes it’s just good to get your legs moving in some way. In the evenings, when my husband’s home or on his days off, we will venture out as a family to the mall or a large retailer and walk around. Most malls have play areas, and the stores that don’t, well, it just feels good to stretch our legs a bit.

8. Join a Children’s Museum or Indoor Garden. We have a family membership to a garden and sculpture park. There is an outdoor play area that is open all year round, but there is also an indoor arboretum that stays about 70 degrees, has trees and plants and smells like dirt. I love taking my girls there to look at the plants, walk around and just feel like we’re outside for a while.

9. Clean. If I am feeling really bold during the day, I will try to clean. Between wrangling my children and trying to vacuum or mop or sweep, I get a pretty good workout. Sometimes, I take it up a notch and strap my baby in the bjorn for extra effort.

10. When all else fails…playing with my children is always a good workout. They are constantly moving, and if I take the time to get down on their level and play their games and keep up with their speed, I am moving and stretching all day, too.

I’d love to hear what ideas you have for creative family exercise, too. Leave a comment and let me know what you’re doing with (or without) your children this winter to stay active.

::This post is linked up with Oh Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. * brooke says:

    nice ideas! i love you in bloom, having hit your stride as a mama. you’re really owning it. and i’m watching you, so i can learn, too.

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 3 months ago
    • Thanks, Brooke. It’s harder work than I thought it would be, honestly, but I love it (most days!). I’ve only been at this mom-ing thing for 2 years, that’s not long … which I suppose I should remind myself more often. Now to hide out and drink some hot cocoa while the girls sleep 🙂

      | Reply Posted 7 years, 3 months ago
  2. * anne says:

    Oh sure, you had c-sections, you can still do jumping jacks….ahem.

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 3 months ago
  3. * Jodie says:

    Nice list. I also have a 2 year old and 9 month old and live in WI and hate to be stuck inside. Thanks for sharing the momavation site, I have never been there before, love it!

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 3 months ago
  4. * Pat McCain says:

    You’re a genious! I’m thinking, if the girls are asleep, just run up & down those stairs a few times every day; that alone will get your heart pumping!! LOL!

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 3 months ago

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