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Making Fitness Fun

The #1 rule: Make it fun. Emulate your child  -- run around for a few minutes, then collapse in a heap, rest, and do something else you feel like doing.

And make it easy. You should be able to start exercising at a moment's notice, without changing clothes or dragging out heavy exercise equipment, and just as easily switch back to doing something else. One way to motivate yourself: Get a pedometer, figure out the average number of steps you take a day, and then try to add 2,000 to 3,000 more.

Play a game of Twister with your kids. You'll get in some good stretches and improve your flexibility. But watch how you fall!

Rediscover hula hoops. Keep at it for ten minutes and you'll get a cardio workout, strengthen your abs, and improve your core body strength, much like a Pilates workout.

Rock on. Put on your three favorite up-tempo songs and dance around the house with your kids.

Jump rope for 30 seconds, then walk around for 2 minutes. Repeat three more times.

Take a flight of stairs. "I live in a four-story town house, and I carry my three-year-old, Hannah, up the stairs several times a day," says mom Sondra Goad of Bethesda, MD. "She's thirty-five pounds, so it's a good, quick workout."

Power stroll at the mall. The next time you're in a large department store, push your child in a stroller (or shopping cart) around the store for ten minutes before you begin to shop. You'll burn calories, build up your arm strength, and get to see what's on sale, all at once.

Swing. Pushing your child on a swing works your chest and upper-arm muscles (triceps). And if you can get on a swing yourself, even for five minutes, you'll tone your abs, thighs, and calf muscles. Together with pushing, it's almost a perfect workout.

Pop in a grown-up exercise DVD. Your child will probably enjoy it, too. Karen Postal of Plymouth, MI, loves her Tae Bo tape (aerobics plus abs, arms, and butt). So do her two daughters, Madison, 6, and Carlie, 4. "I can do all or parts of the routine while my girls are playing together, and sometimes they'll join in and do it with me!"

Play Tag Or Hide-and-Seek. Or Capture the Flag. Anything that involves lots of running around. Your child will love the game, and you'll both get some exercise.

Waiting in line? Do "calf lift-ups"  -- you'll tone leg muscles and improve balance. Stand on the balls of your feet and your toes for a count of two. Repeat until it's checkout time.

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