|Children are unpredictable, which means that a caregiver's day can be challenging to schedule as well. Finding ways to fit exercise in is absolutely possible – but can take some mindset change for what that looks like.|
The best way to begin to get more activity into your day is to think movement rather than exercise. Movement comes in many shapes and forms and being flexible with what that looks like in your mind will help you to become more consistent and less discouraged because you “didn't make it to the gym again”. Here are some ideas of what movement in your day can look like:
Walking: it seems too simple, but walking can be one of the best forms of exercise out there. Walking is a great way to change your mood, clear your mental space, get that much-needed breath of fresh air and get the blood moving through your body. Aim to get a 15-30 minute walk in daily.
Create movement through your day: pay attention to how much unnecessary sitting time you have in the day. Are you sitting at a desk? Scrolling your phone? Watching a third show? While rest and relaxation are encouraged, be sure that you are balancing that out with movement. Stand, walk up and down your stairs a few times, turn on some music and dance, listen to an uplifting podcast while playing with the kids or doing housework. It doesn’t matter what movement you choose, just move.
Follow the Leader: in this case, the leader is your child. If you have ever watched children move, you know that they never stop. Make it a game to do every move that your child makes. Your child will love the attention and you will love the fun interaction and physical demand of moving like a young child.
Involve the Kids: You can also involve them in your workout. You will be amazed at how much fun you can both have! They can copy what you are doing or you can use them as weights. Children make excellent additions to squats, lunges, planks, bent over rows.... get creative!
Playground Workout: playgrounds are not just for kids. Playgrounds have great equipment for you to get a fantastic workout in. Use those benches for step-ups, lunges and box jumps. Utilize the monkey bars (or lower bars) for incline pushups, legs lifts and pull-ups. You can always modify an exercise to fit your skill level. Also, don’t forget to challenge your child on the monkey bars (although they’ll likely win ).
Mommy (Daddy) and Me Fitness: the popularity of fitness class that offer childcare or where the child is welcome in the class has increased over the years. Check locally to see what is available. The additional benefit of a fitness group is that you will meet other parents and the child will have a built-in playdate.
Wake up Before the Kids: you may get to the point where you want a fitness plan that is more challenging with fewer distractions. Get this workout in before the rest of the house is awake.
There are so many benefits of an early morning workout: you start your day on your terms, getting “me time” in; no matter what craziness happens the rest of the day you know that you’re fitness is completed, and your day will likely more productive and less stressful because you have already got your blood flowing and your mind clear before the day begins.
Every day with young children around will not be perfect but you can make the best of what it is. Remember to be forgiving of yourself on days when you don’t feel your movements were substantial, there is always another. I encourage you to try out a few of these ideas to see what works for you!
Jennifer is an active mom of 4 humans ages preschool to high school. She is a Wellness Coach and Certified Personal Trainer specializing in Pre and Postnatal fitness. She uses her personal experience as well as Evidence-Based Practice to educate and empower women to make informed decisions based on their personal values and needs. Jennifer can be found at JenniferAnneNutrition.ca