It’s fair to say that many people appreciate the benefits of regular exercise and, as such, might head off to the gym or go for a run on a regular basis.

Sometimes, however, it’s hard to factor in time for a good solid workout, when work commitments and busy lives in general sweep the rug out from under our feet.

When you’re a parent and the many demands of toddlers, pre-schoolers and school age children, such as homework, lunches, uniforms, projects, out of school activities and various other things come to the party, the challenge to find the time to think straight, let alone manage a workout, becomes even more, well, challenging.

Workouts, while a great opportunity for an escape from the stresses of daily life, can take up time that you just don’t have. But they don’t always have to be completed alone.

Children often love the opportunity to work out with their mum or dad and there are some great exercises out there that you can complete with varying degrees of difficulty to keep them fully engaged from start to finish.

Workouts for the whole family

As the winter months set in, you may find yourself wanting to stay indoors more, so, while going outdoor swimming or for a bike ride as a family may well not be as perfect a solution as it seems in the summer, workouts at home can be just as effective.

When you want your children to be active and for workouts to stay interesting, the secret is to find exercises which aren’t too challenging for a child to complete. You might want to do them yourself, or find ones where there is a harder version available, such as with the varieties of plank, for example.

Create a HIIT style routine and move from one exercise to another, remembering to intersperse periods of intense exercise with periods of rest. Some great examples are DVDs and online workouts from the The Body Coach and Jillian Michaels, as these often display the easier and harder ways of doing the particular exercises.

Get moving and have some fun

Teaching your child how to complete the exercise correctly may also give you the chance to pay more attention to your technique, rather than just seeing how much you can get done in the time given. Perhaps get them their own little exercise mat, so that they can really feel a part of what you’re doing.

So, now you’re ready to go, how about getting some great tunes on and incorporating the following exercises into a fitness routine which can have varying levels of difficulty, depending on age and ability?

  • Plank (go down onto your elbows and back up again to make it harder)
  • Jogging on the spot (can become high knees or butt kicks)
  • Squats (a harder version – get lower and jump as you come up)
  • Mountain climbers (the faster you go, the harder it is)
  • Sit ups and stomach crunches (these can become bicycle crunches for more of a challenge)
  • Forward or backward lunges (try jumping lunges to make it tougher)
  • Push ups (lots of levels of difficulty – the easiest way is to do them on your knees)

Remember to always complete a dynamic warm up, which includes stretches and moves such as running on the spot, before taking part in any form of exercise, then afterwards, try to cool down with plenty of stretching before getting on with your day.