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Ten Ways to Increase Activity and Reach 10,000 Steps While Caring for Children

Updated on July 9, 2012

Getting daily exercise when caring for children can be a challenge. Despite the idea that parents are “constantly running after their kids,” parenting includes many tasks that prevent moms and dads from getting in the recommended 10,000 steps each day.

Getting kids ready for the day, preparing their meals, reading to them, and playing with them certainly takes energy, but may not add up to the type of aerobic activity that maintains health or helps to maintain or lose weight. Even efforts to be active with the kids, like going for a walk, can be slow going or short-lived.

Parents may not have the luxury of being able to go to the gym or even the time to go out for a walk or run without the children, so they have to be creative in getting in extra steps each day while taking care of their kids. Using a pedometer is a great way to keep tabs on how active you are being and can motivate you do get in extra steps each day.

Here are just a few ideas of ways to increase your daily walking steps, even while caring for the children:

Increase Steps With Kids

  1. Have a dance party. Dancing is a great form of exercise. What kid doesn’t like moving their stuff? Turn on some fun music and have a dance party. Dancing for 10 minutes = 1,300 steps.
  2. Jump up and down. Kids love jumping. It is guaranteed they will outlast you. Try different jumps - straddles, tucking your knees in, or keeping your heels up. 5 minutes jumping = 1,200 steps.
  3. Chase them around the house. Chase is the oldest game in the book. Chase them around the house or see who can get to the next tree first! Playing chase for 5 minutes = 800 steps.
  4. Do “Aerobics.” Walk in place, reach your arms up, do kicks, do whatever you feel like. No one’s watching - except your kids. In no time, they’ll be demanding more, so be prepared to keep it up! 10 minutes of aerobics = 1,400 steps.
  5. Follow your kids around at the playground. Have you ever tried to keep up with your kids at the playground? Try it for a few minutes - run after them, climb on the structures, swing on the swings. You’ll have fun, and add steps to your day! 10 minutes playing at the playground = 1,200 steps.
  6. Walk around the playground. Go to a playground that has a path around it and walk around as they are playing (if they are old enough to play alone for a few and you can still see them!) 10 minutes walking = 1,000 steps.
  7. Get in the pool with them. Ok, so the pedometer won’t track this, but it’s a great way to get get more exercise anyway. 10 minutes moving in the pool = 1,000 steps
  8. Go on an errand. I know, this doesn’t sound like exercise, but just getting out of the house and going somewhere will make you more active. Think about the steps you’ll need to take to get ready to go, to walk to and from your car and store, and then walking throughout the store (and probably chasing your kids). Better yet, walk or bike to the store for even more steps. An hour errand = 1,000 steps.
  9. Go outside! Have a race. Play chase. Scooter. Bike. Whatever it is, join in with your child, rather than sitting and watching. 20 minutes playing outside actively = 2,000 steps.

10. Garden. Kids love to do “chores” with adults. Buy them a kids’ gardening set and let them help dig, spray the plants with water, and weed. You’ll be getting work done, entertaining the kids, and getting exercise all at once! 10 minutes gardening = 1,000 steps.

Being Active With Kids

Kids love being active, so there’s no reason that you shouldn’t get your exercise in, even if you are the primary caretaker of your children. Engaging them in these types of activities will give you a needed energy boost and will have the added bonus of helping teach your kids to lead an active lifestyle.

Bonus Tip: To keep them interested, buy them a pedometer, and have a steps contest with them. They will love keeping track of their daily steps, and seeing who can get the most steps in during the day!


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    • BJC profile image

      BJC 5 years ago from Florida

      Although I don't have young children at home anymore, it's still a great reminder on what we can do to increase our steps - hey, who's to say we can't jump and run around the house as an adult...........

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 5 years ago from MA

      Thanks, all, for stopping by. Glad you found this helpful! Wearing a pedometer, and aiming to get to at least 10,000 steps per day, is certainly making me creative in terms of ways to get those steps in.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Those are cool ideas and I love your reasons for writing this! Great job on a very important topic.

    • rfmoran profile image

      Russ Moran - The Write Stuff 5 years ago from Long Island, New York

      Great advice for a mom or dad. Depending on how many kids one has, 10,000 may just be a normal minimum.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 5 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Wonderful advice spending fun time with your kids. ^