I enjoy working out. I find it fun, but I need variety to keep me motivated so I’ve tried my hand at a lot of different activities. Here are just some: running, hiking, pilates, Tae Bo, yoga, walking, kayaking, golf, volley ball, soft ball, boot camp, jump rope, hula hooping, swimming, biking, ellipticals, challenge courses, rock climbing, stairs, hills, pole dancing, and weights.

I’m sure I’ve done other things, but those just easily come to mind without having to think very hard. Some I enjoy more than others, sometimes I fall in and out of love with some of them. And some are harder than others, but, lately, I have been discovering the most challenging workout of all: KIDS!

A couple weekends ago I baby sat for a one-year-old. She cried for about an hour and a half, but I was able to get her to calm down by entertaining her with physical activity. She would tire of everything after at most 15 minutes so I kept having to change it up. She seemed to most enjoy me running from one side of the room to the other and when I picked her up and kind of bounced her up and down. When I left I was tuckered.

Then last weekend we had friends staying with us who have a two-and-a-half-year-old. I, perhaps foolishly, started this extremely creative game with her called, Up & Down. The game is quite simple. It works like this: While holding a 40-pound two-year-old, you squat and then jump up, coming up onto your toes and gently toss the child up with your arms. You don’t have to throw them. They can stay in your arms the whole time, but this little lift at the end, gives them a little added bonus. They laugh and giggle and the world is good. The problem is the child may love the game a little too much. By the end of about two hours of playing Up & Down on and off, I could barely move. I could feel every muscle in my body shaking, and without even knowing it I’d gotten a full body workout!

So, after a total of six hours spent with kids, I now believe people when they say their children are their workout. While I don’t think kids are a substitute for taking time for yourself and your body–they certainly will can challenge your body physically. So next time you’re feeling bored with your regular workout routine, ask a friend with children if you can borrow them for a couple of hours.