Squeeze in Exercise Every Day

Let me preface this article by saying it is in no means a program to lose weight, or get that bikini-boasting body back after childbirth. Those are two things I have no experience with, and I am not a health care professional or physical trainer. But a daily exercise routine is important for so many reasons, and as parents, we often let that part of our lives disappear into the great parenting abyss.

If you’ve found that the only exercise you get is running after your kids, then take heart. You might be able to actually use that as exercise!

The official recommendation is that adults get two and a half hours of moderate physical activity per week (or one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous activity). That’s about 30 minutes a day.

By being physically active, you lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer and depression. Which means that if you exercise and stay healthy you’ll be more likely to be around to enjoy all those great grandchildren.

The trick is finding 30 minutes in which to exercise. Before children, it was easy. Drop by the gym after work or pop in an aerobics video before breakfast. Maybe it was even just a walk with friends at a park. But with kids, finding time to exercise, even just a 30-minute chunk, is hard. Because we all know that it’s not really just 30 minutes. You still have to drive to the gym, maybe take a shower, and who’s watching the kids?

Here are some ways to fit exercise back into your life. And remember, the kids will be older one of these days. You’ll have plenty of time to get back to the gym if that’s what you really want to do!

Steal time

Thirty minutes a day in one continuous chunk is ideal. But doctors at the Mayo Clinic say that even if you get it in 10 minute chunks it’s better than nothing. The idea is to lead a more active lifestyle. So find some ways to exercise when you’ve only got a few minutes to spare.

Set the alarm a few minutes early, or eliminate one of those “snoozes” from your routine. You’ll find you’re able to fit in quite a few crunches, leg lifts or even a short balance ball session in ten minutes, and it’s a great way to start the day.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator — at work, while you’re shopping, even at home. Climbing stairs can burn up to 500 calories per hour.

Skip the car line and walk to your kids’ school to pick them up. Granted, this won’t work for everyone. But if you only live a few blocks away, you can get in a little cardio workout before you pick them up. Take the dog along and you’ve tackled two chores at once. If you don’t live in town, find a different place to walk to. My driveway is 800 feet long, so the dog and I will take a walk to get the mail for a little burst of activity.

Do it with the kids

Picking up after kids all day, chasing them down from potential dangers and just listening to them chatter can be exhausting. But it’s not exercise. Thankfully, there are some ways to turn that time with your kids into some quality exercise time, and it will be so much fun you won’t even notice the workout you’re getting.

Dance together. This one’s easy, and great for cold or rainy days. Just put your favorite dance music into the CD player, or tune into the Kids Channel on XM radio, and get moving. Incorporate jumping jacks and some of Chubby Checker’s twist, and you’ve got yourself a workout. It’s a favorite in my house on rainy days especially, and usually helps guarantee a nap.

Play together. Get outside and kick that soccer ball with them, or instigate a full-fledged game of tag. Sure, you might feel a little silly at first, but they’ll love the challenge of having to work hard to make you “it.”

Take a class together. There are quite a few “mom and baby” yoga classes around our area. And there are even some gyms that host aerobics where your kids could join in, if they’re old enough.

Of course, there’s always that fall back too, getting your spouse to watch the kids while you sneak in some exercise time. It’s a treat I get once in a while.

So go ahead and start integrating some exercise into your day. That way when the time for New Year’s resolutions rolls around, you can resolve something more fun than “exercise more,” like spending more time with the family!

Karen M. Alley, is Web editor for Piedmont Parent, a sister publication of Carolina Parent.

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