If getting fit is on your wish list, but you also feel the tug to spend time with your family, don’t lose hope. There are ways to combine the two. Check out the following suggestions for how you can include health and exercise into your busy family life.

Take baby steps.

If you feel fitness starts with a healthier diet for your family, be realistic with goals. In the beginning, your family may find it challenging to give up unhealthy snacks. Over time, you can introduce them to healthier versions of foods and they should start to come around. For example, choose reduced-fat milk or cheese rather than full-fat options. Or, add vegetable toppings to pepperoni pizza. Slowly, reduce the amount of pepperoni, and choose thin crust rather than full crust. In other words, small incremental changes can be easier than going “cold turkey” all at once.

Start early.

Exercise first thing in the morning with the family. Most people feel less energized as the day goes on, so a short workout before breakfast is a great way to start. Be flexible with your time and discuss the plan with your children so they feel valued and heard.

Choose child-friendly workouts.

If you have young children, find an activity that allows you to watch them while working out. For example, walk or jog with your child in a stroller or baby jogger. In general, the bigger the wheel on the stroller, the better. Aerobic dancing or a fitness DVD can be a winner because they’re fun for kids and there’s no need to leave home.

Schedule family workouts.

If your children are older, consider a game like tennis or riding a bike. Consider ditching your local tennis court in favor of one out of your area. Try an off-road bike trail. Kids like variety and new adventures. While these may take more planning, if your children are motivated and willing, go for it!

Working out doesn’t have to clash with family life. Take the time to talk with your children and plan an activity that meets everyone’s needs. With a little thought, you could be on the right track with a happy, healthy family!

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