How Single Moms and Dads Can Exercise with Their Kids

I did some banking last week and encouraged my banker to exercise.  She said she used to exercise but stopped because she lacked energy.  I told her how when I stopped exercising, my power waned but skyrocketed only once I restarted my fitness program.  She sounded inspired and then said, “But I have no time.  I have kids.” I didn’t know how to respond.

While I should have backed down and respected her free will or not even advised in the first place, I couldn’t help but wonder, “How can a person exercise with kids?  Better still, how can a single parent and the kids exercise together?”

First, let me tell you what I would personally do if I had children.  In a book called Peak by the renowned psychologist K. Anders Ericsson, with whom I had the good fortune to communicate, I learned that a famous hockey player’s childhood home also served as an indoor skating rink.  That’s when the light bulb went off for me.  What if we could turn our homes into recreation centers?  There would be no reason for any family member not to get fit.

In my home, I have a dipping and chin-up bar, a vertical climber, fitness bands, weights, and other fitness gadgets in a small space.  I also do martial arts in the short hallway.  The dipping and chin-up bar allows me to hang from the bar while lifting my knees, which is excellent for abdominal strength.  And then there is YouTube for learning new sports or exercises.  So, I have everything at home I need for a full-body workout.  And I enjoy swimming at a recreation center one or two days a week.

So, we can all make our homes, however small, a recreation center for us and our kids.  If we have a backyard, then a swing set, monkey bars, and slide are a must for younger kids.  And we can buy the playground equipment from Kijiji to save money.  As a result, our kids will be less likely to become ill from autoimmune or chronic conditions.  And they’ll do better in school and have a happier life, statistically speaking.

Other great buys are a basketball hoop that latches quickly on the door, a net for soccer and hockey, a skateboard, rollerblades, hula-hoops, skipping ropes, Frisbees, bowling balls, other balls, and obstacle courses.  Fortunately for me, my stepdad is an enormous sports enthusiast.  So he ensured that we always had physical fitness activities.  And he put me on a baseball team every year.  He even bought a ping-pong table.  What fun!

The best way to get sports items is to visit Sportschek (or Amazon) every paycheck and buy an item.  But, if the budget is unavailable, we can buy it from Kijiji when the price is right.  In addition, we can purchase some sports items that both children and adults can use.

And during the summer, why not visit parks where we time ourselves and our children running laps and sprints and watch YouTube videos for proper form and technique?  We can get a timer, record progress, and become the coach.  The more we practice running and sprinting, the better we get.  Or we can learn the intricacies of a sport we can all play together in the park.

Many gyms and fitness centers offer two-hour daycare, too, so we can take our kids with us and train while they play.  In addition, we can work out in the morning or evening after work if the fitness center daycare accommodates these schedules.  And a family pass at a recreation center means the entire family can swim, skate, climb walls, play basketball, and do much more.  But to make fitness a habit, we should aim to do an hour a day, at least four days a week, so we all benefit.

To save money in the long run, turn our homes into sports jungle gyms—like the home of the famous hockey star.  And then, it would be strange for physical fitness not to happen daily in our households.  And who knows?  One of us may end up becoming a sports celebrity.  I’ve even read that some Olympians have chronic or inflammatory conditions.  So, if they can achieve top fitness, so can we and our kids.