As busy parents it can be really hard to add a fitness routine into the day – I know when I have a few minutes to myself I’d rather sit and sip coffee than sweat on an exercise bike! However, every bit of exercise helps, if only because by some cruel twist of fate, the more energy you expend in the right way, the more energy you have for the fun things. Or so they tell me!
I read an article recently with great tips for including exercise into your daily life which made me think of ways mums can include exercise into the things we already do.
The reality as parents we are very active a lot of the time anyway, but sometimes it just takes a little creative thinking to make the most of the time and energy you have, while at the same time making it fun for the kids and showing them a healthier way of life.
I often take the kids to the park and sit in a shady spot while they play. Instead – with the motivation of Fitbit challenges! – walking around the outskirts of the park I can keep an eye on them, and get the step count up along with the heart rate.
Paddling around a pool is all fun and games, but doing underwater exercises while you’re hanging about is an easy and quite effortless way to tone the muscles. My sister and I used to do water aerobics and one of the exercises was to keep your body straight above the water, while pushing your legs out in front of yourself, then swinging them back behind you, like a pendulum. It doesn’t feel like you’re doing much, but your stomach muscles will soon feel it! Now that we live by the sea we enjoy swimming in the ocean, even though it’s pretty nippy. In Forest School sessions we used to say there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. I think that can be adapted for swimming in the sea too. There’s no such thing as icy Atlantic water – only bad swimwear! A great place for swimwear is simplybeach.com and in particular their women’s swimwear!
Each of the children has a bicycle, which was a great idea in principle – except the reality sees me running along the beach pushing one child and dragging the other, or dragging a child along with a bicycle under my arm. That’s probably great exercise, but it’s not much fun, and with it, not much motivation to do it again! Instead, a tag-along bike is good because it means at least one child is physically attached, and the whole experience is a lot more fun!
Dancing is not only a fantastic exercise, but it’s fun too, and always ends up with us in a pile on the floor, laughing – which is good for the stomach muscles themselves.
This is half tongue in cheek because lovely as yoga is, and yoga with the kids is, it only takes a few minutes before I end up with someone on my back, pretending I am a donkey. It’s great to have a kids yoga routine, many of which can be found online. They’re also a good way to calm the children down before bed.
Exercise isn’t really something I consider fun, but if there are ways to make it fun, and let children involve movement in their daily activities, that’s got to be good for the whole family.