5 Tips for Staying Active With Kids and Family

When it comes to heart health, it's important that we think not only of our own cardiovascular health but also that of future generations. A study last year found that obese children and teens have as much plaque in their arteries as a 45-year-old adult, setting them up for heart disease and other serious health conditions much earlier than their parents.

If you've got kids, of course you want to make sure they grow up fit and healthy. But you also know it's hard to juggle work, family, and physical activity—for you alone, never mind for you and your kids. Setting a healthy example is a good start; research shows that parents who are physically active increase the likelihood that their kids will be active as well. But if you're looking for ways to get your kids involved, check out these tips.

1. Plan outdoor activities
Set aside one day a weekend to do something active as a family: swimming in the summer, sledding or hiking in the winter, or biking in the spring and fall. Taking along a picnic lunch—and splurging on some healthy snacks after a good workout—will help the day go by without a complaint.

2. Take classes together
Ask around at fitness clubs and community centers in your area about yoga or aerobics classes offered to parents and kids together. If your little one is too young to participate, look for classes that help you burn calories with your baby by incorporating them into your yoga moves or pushing them along during stroller workouts. No kids? Check out partner yoga or even "doga"—yup, yoga for you and your dog.

3. Redo your family room
Too often, family rooms are the center of laziness in a home: a comfy couch, a video-game console, a shelf full of DVDs, and nothing to encourage fitness or physical activity. There are ways to add in subtle reminders, however, without overhauling your entire room or dragging in a giant piece of workout equipment. Set a time limit on weekly television and incorporate these Skinny House essentials to keep your whole family moving.

4. Make chores fun
Instead of relegating each member of the family to doing separate chores by themselves, turn chores into a game you can all do together. Race to see how fast you can get the house cleaned, and then try to beat your old time the next week. Play music while you're doing laundry, and enlist the kids to sing and dance while helping to fold and put clothes away. Take the dog for walks together, and squeeze in some running, roller-skating, or jump rope while you're at it.

5. Make over your meal plan
This isn't necessarily a fitness tip, but it's also worth mentioning: Families that eat healthier also tend to have other healthy habits, such as regular physical activity. If you want to slim down after having a baby or just want to eat better overall, get your entire family involved and you're more likely to succeed. Take kids to the farmers market, let them pick their own fruits and vegetables, and involve them in the food preparation. They're much more likely to enjoy their meals—and to clean their plates.

Get more ideas for fitting fitness into a busy schedule here.