How To Work Out With A Toddler And Actually Enjoy It
Exercising At Home With A Toddler
It’s not easy. Let’s be honest. Few things are easy with a toddler, but that’s part of what makes them so fun (sometimes). And if your goal is to get back into a regular fitness habit, now is the time to get creative!
Easier said than done. Believe me, I know.
But one thing to keep in mind is that by regularly engaging in physical activity with your toddler, you are setting a strong example and helping to build the foundation for their own fitness habits.
If we want our kids to grow up to become physically active, happy, healthy individuals, we have to model what that looks like and include them!
Here are a few ways you can integrate your toddler into your workout routine.
1. Let your toddler be your weights.
Sure, you can grab a kettlebell from your home gym set, but your toddler is way cuter! Examples of exercises you can do with your munchkin as the weight:
- Hold your toddler on your chest as you do three sets of squats.
- Do tricep dips on a chair and let your toddler lay on your legs for an added challenge (it’s so hard).
- Let your toddler hang onto your back while you do planks.
- Play airplane with your child while gently lowering your legs for a killer abs workout.
- Are you a fitness queen or king? Let your little one ride on your back as you do push ups.
Need more ideas or a complete toddler workout routine laid out for you? YouTube definitely has you covered.
Be right back. Off to order a matching gym outfit for me and the munchkin.
Additional Toddler Workout Vids:
Want to make things extra adorable?
Let your toddler have a pair of 1 lb dumbbells and follow along with you while you do your own free weight routine.
Our daughter has a pair of tiny, hot pink weights and thinks she is hot stuff when she gets them out to exercise. Honestly, it makes our own workout more enjoyable.
2. Follow Along To One Of Their Videos
This is especially good for moms and dads who are just getting back into a fitness routine after a long hiatus. Remember that if you want to make a habit stick, you need to start small.
There are soooo many fun, high-energy videos just for kids to get their wiggles out. Why not join in the fun?
I promise that your fitness tracker does not know the difference between a proper adult cardio routine and Elmo’s dance along.
Plus, it’s a good way to show your toddler that you’re invested in things he or she finds entertaining. More importantly, you’re building the foundation to keep up her which gets increasingly more challenging the older (and more mobile) she gets!
Here’s a great example of a kid-centered workout routine you can do together:
Cosmic Kids is such a phenomenal channel for little ones that encourages them to be active and gives them a creative outlet to do just that. This woman has been a lifesaver, especially during the shutdown.
Here are some additional videos of workouts geared for kids that totally get your heart rate up, too:
- Jumping Jax Gym
- Family Fun Cardio by PopSugar Fitness
- Frozen Dance Class For Toddlers (she has a bunch of free dance classes that are super cute).
- Easy Indoor Exercises To Do With Toddlers
3. Get silly with them!
Want to get your heart rate up and amuse your toddler at the same? Chase them around the house or bear crawl after them. You never realize just how much leg strength you need to get up and off the ground in a flash until you have a rubber-jointed toddler to catch.
Reframe the way you think about exercise. If your heart rate is up and you’re starting to sweat, that is exercise.
You know what little ones absolutely love? Going bonkers to their favorite song.
Go bonkers with them!
Here’s a fun compilation of “Shake Breaks” from Pancake Manor that I like to put on for my toddler.
By the third round of this you’ll be begging for mercy! (For several reasons lol).
The bigger idea here is to let your toddler lead the way. Play with them! Mimic their playing style and give the same level of energy that they put in. I guarantee you will be huffing and puffing when it’s done.
4. Exercise with your toddler at the playground.
Instead of hanging out on the benches while your little one runs around, put your workout clothes on and get in the mix! Whether it’s doing lunges and squats on the perimeter, or getting squats in as you push your toddler on the swing, the goal is really to find opportunities to move.
Get some pull ups in on the monkey bars. Or hang upside down and get some creative ab work going. The important thing is to move and let your toddler see you moving with him instead of checking Facebook on your phone with the other parents.
Need ideas for specific exercises? This article from Parents magazine is an excellent resource.
5. Take your toddler for a ride.
If you’re an outdoorsy type, why not upgrade your gear to accommodate your toddler? If you like going for long bike rides, invest in a high-quality toddler bike seat.
I’m amazed at how far the designs of these things have come along since I was young. Here’s a top-rated model to try out.
- Center mounted provides a better center of gravity and increased mobility for the adult rider
- Better view and more enjoyable ride for the child
- The child safely positioned behind the handlebars allows for better communication
- Unlike trailers - no dirt, rocks or water thrown in the child's face
- Easier, safer Loading and unloading of the child.Maximum Weight: 38 lbs
If you’re not too keen on your toddler riding on the front of the bike with you, you can also consider getting a bike trailer. Your munchkin can chill in style while you get your workout in.
I personally like these for cooler, drizzly weather. My brother lives in Denver and frequently uses this with my niece and nephew on bike trips to the park and they love it.
(Also, it’s pretty friggin’ sweet.)
- Tow behind style bike trailer, universal bike coupler will fit most bicycle rear wheels, 5-point rider harnesses with shoulder patches, safety flag for extra visibility
- Two-in-one canopy, bug screen and weather shield options, rear ventilation window, two riders and room for 12 pounds of additional gear in rear area
- 20 inch alloy spoked wheels with air filled/pneumatic tires for performance and style, large side windows
- Fits in the back of cars or closet. The frame collapses and the wheels remove. Comes with a coupler that will attach to most rear bike wheels
- Assembled 51.8" x 32.5" x 31.9"', fits two riders up to 40 pounds each. Features a small storage space behind the seat for water bottle or some cargo
6. Cycling not your thing? Why not go for a walk or run?
This is a favorite in our house.
My little munchkin loves to go for a walk. She routinely races us down the sidewalk so it makes for a lovely HIIT routine. Plus it has the added bonus of being extremely adorable.
(See photographic evidence to the left.)
If your toddler is a ball of energy (aren’t they all?), try taking her out for a stroller-free walk and do some “races!”
Of course, if your child isn’t a huge fan of hoofing it or you’re looking to do a longer distance run, you can invest in a quality running stroller if you don’t have one already.
They don’t have to be crazy expensive either. Here’s a best seller that won’t break the bank.
- Large bicycle tires roll effortlessly over all surfaces
- Front swivel wheel for easy maneuvering, locks for jogging. Recommended use: 6 months - 50 pounds or up to 42
- Reclining padded seat with 5 point harness, tether, large canopy and storage basket
- Convenient child and parent trays with 2 cup holders
- Easy compact fold for storage or travel
If you’re more of a walker and would like something that is easy for your kids to get in and out of, you can also consider investing in a wagon. There are great for parks, zoo trips, and a walk around the block.
Your toddler can easily get in and out whenever he feels like walking (or not). AND, I find they are just easier than strollers. You don’t have to buckle anyone in or engage in leg wars with the attached tray.
Plus, it’s a good transition piece for kids who don’t exactly want to be in a stroller anymore but still can’t handle a significant amount of walking.
Here are a few options in different styles and price ranges. I’m personally a fan of the ole tried and true Radio Flyer. As a side note, if you like to go on adventures across a variety of terrain (i.e. sand, grass, rocky trails), make sure you should a product with tires up to the task.
7. Get a mommy/toddler workout group together.
There is definitely strength in numbers.
Get some mommy friends together (or hop onto your local mommy FB group). Meet up at a park where everyone can safely distance. Then choose a routine!
You can incorporate your toddlers into your workout or get some lunges and squats in while they play on the playground. Are your toddlers on the slightly older side?
Why not get into a strategic water balloon fight? Have you seen the water balloon offerings these days? You can fill up like ten of those things at once.
Similar to #3, allow your toddler to create activities for everyone to do. Chances are you’ll get roped into a seemingly endless game of tag which has the added bonus of closing your exercise ring for the day.
Plus, it’s fun!
Our toddlers are explosive balls of energy. Us? Meh, we could probably do better. Remind yourself what it’s like to play again and enjoy the outdoors. You’ll get all the exercise you need.