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    Exercise Minus The Exercise - 5 Healthy Ways to Mix Fitness and Family

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    If you're anything like me, the thought of spending time on the treadmill can be enough to prompt a nap instead. With three young sons (including one in diapers), it's important for my husband Josh and me to make fitness a family affair--but we don't want to spend evenings at the gym when we could be spending this time together as a family. Read on for five fun activities you can integrate into your current lifestyle to improve your fitness (and channel some of your kids' high energy levels!)

    #1: Hiking

    Hiking is one of my family's favorite pastimes, and for good reason--it provides a full-body workout that can be modified to include kids (and adults) of all ages and fitness levels. We prefer our beautiful Boise Foothills, but no matter where you live, you're likely within a short drive from an excellent hiking spot, from state and national parks to historic sites or even just exploring an especially-hilly neighborhood.

    #2: Dancing

    Exercise never feels like a chore when it involves dancing to good music, and with a portable speaker, television, or even just your cell phone providing the tunes, you'll be able to have an impromptu dance party whenever and wherever you'd like. Kids love to join in on this activity, and you'll burn a few extra calories by laughing at their creative dance moves. Our one and a half year old Orrin loves to cut a rug and keeps us all on our toes!

    #3: Making Chores a Game

    It's important for Josh and me to raise our boys to be helpful household contributors, so assigning age-appropriate chores to each of our boys is one of the ways we focus on family fitness. Whether this includes running the vacuum, having a race to see who can pick up their toys fastest, or helping sort, fold, and put away laundry, our boys are learning some skills and attitudes that should serve them well as adults.

    #4: Parking Lot Distance Walking

    If you head to the grocery store on a crowded weekend day, you may often find yourself spending an extra few minutes circling the parking lot in search of the closest spot. You can save this valuable time while burning some extra calories by simply parking at the far end of the lot and hoofing it inside. If your kids are anything like mine, they'll enjoy the opportunity to show off their jogging skills and get some fresh air before heading back inside.

    #5: Gardening and Yard Work

    Gardening as a hobby can sometimes seem like the province of retirees, but working in your garden or yard burns a surprising number of calories--up to 325 per hour for a 150-pound adult. Because of the varied duties involved in gardening, it's easy to find jobs for kids of all ages, from pulling weeds to digging up soil or even transplanting plants and flowers.

    By incorporating a few of these activities into your week, you and your family can put yourselves on the path to long-term fitness--no treadmill required!

    If you're anything like me, the thought of spending time on the treadmill can be enough to prompt a nap instead. With three young sons (including one in diapers), it's important for my husband Josh and me to make fitness a family affair--but we don't want to spend evenings at the gym when we could be spending this time together as a family. Read on for five fun activities you can integrate into your current lifestyle to improve your fitness (and channel some of your kids' high energy levels!)

    #1: Hiking

    Hiking is one of my family's favorite pastimes, and for good reason--it provides a full-body workout that can be modified to include kids (and adults) of all ages and fitness levels. We prefer our beautiful Boise Foothills, but no matter where you live, you're likely within a short drive from an excellent hiking spot, from state and national parks to historic sites or even just exploring an especially-hilly neighborhood.

    #2: Dancing

    Exercise never feels like a chore when it involves dancing to good music, and with a portable speaker, television, or even just your cell phone providing the tunes, you'll be able to have an impromptu dance party whenever and wherever you'd like. Kids love to join in on this activity, and you'll burn a few extra calories by laughing at their creative dance moves. Our one and a half year old Orrin loves to cut a rug and keeps us all on our toes!

    #3: Making Chores a Game

    It's important for Josh and me to raise our boys to be helpful household contributors, so assigning age-appropriate chores to each of our boys is one of the ways we focus on family fitness. Whether this includes running the vacuum, having a race to see who can pick up their toys fastest, or helping sort, fold, and put away laundry, our boys are learning some skills and attitudes that should serve them well as adults.

    #4: Parking Lot Distance Walking

    If you head to the grocery store on a crowded weekend day, you may often find yourself spending an extra few minutes circling the parking lot in search of the closest spot. You can save this valuable time while burning some extra calories by simply parking at the far end of the lot and hoofing it inside. If your kids are anything like mine, they'll enjoy the opportunity to show off their jogging skills and get some fresh air before heading back inside.

    #5: Gardening and Yard Work

    Gardening as a hobby can sometimes seem like the province of retirees, but working in your garden or yard burns a surprising number of calories--up to 325 per hour for a 150-pound adult. Because of the varied duties involved in gardening, it's easy to find jobs for kids of all ages, from pulling weeds to digging up soil or even transplanting plants and flowers.

    By incorporating a few of these activities into your week, you and your family can put yourselves on the path to long-term fitness--no treadmill required!

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