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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Fitness: Staying Active When You Have Young Children
who are very determined to keep up their healthy habits can lose them after
they have children. Youngsters can demand so much of your time that you barely
have time to breathe, let alone be physically active.
are ways to stay active that don't require a lot of extra time. You just need
to figure out how to work activity into the other parts of your life.
Experts say to do either of these:1
You can choose to do one or both types of activity. And
it's fine to be active in several blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your
day and week.
To be healthy, you need to do hard exercise every
You don't have to do hard exercise every day to
be fit and healthy. Experts say to aim for 2½ hours a week of moderate
activity, like brisk walking or chores that raise your heart rate.
Continue to Why?
for wanting to be active is really important. It has to be your reason, not someone else's, or you're not likely to have
If you are the parent of a young child, your reasons may
include one or more of the following:
It's important to know why you want to be
You're more likely to have success in changing
your habits if you have your own reason for doing so.
Continue to How?
Having a young child doesn't leave you much time for yourself. There are ways to get active as a family. Or you can get your exercise in small
chunks. Three 10-minute periods of activity spread throughout the day are just
as good as one 30-minute period. Find the time that works best for you and your
This is a good time to look to your own needs and your own health.
Getting in some activity while your child is napping, or after he or she has
gone to bed for the night, may work best for you.
When young children are awake and active, you may find it easier if you
break your physical activity into little chunks of time. The key is to think of
ways to make your child part of that activity.
To get the right amount of physical activity, you need
to be active for at least 30 minutes at a time.
You'll get the health benefits of exercise even
if you do it just 10 minutes at a time.
Continue to Where?
For more information on becoming more active, the
following resources are available:
America On the Move offers free, personalized online
resources, interactive tools, community support, and events. This program helps
you build eating and activity habits that positively affect your weight and
HealthierUS.gov provides information on physical
activity, diet, disease prevention, and making healthy choices.
Shape Up America! is a national coalition of industry
and medical experts in nutrition and fitness. Its goals are to make Americans
more aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and to provide
information about how to lose weight and stay fit. The organization has
published several booklets on weight loss and diet, which can be ordered from
the Web site.
Return to topic:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2008).
2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (ODPHP
Publication No. U0036). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
October 26, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Heather Chambliss, PhD - Exercise Science
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