Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tips for busy moms to get some creative workouts in!

Tips for moms with kids 4 and under:

Trying to find time to work out or having the energy to work out with one or more kids under 5 is really difficult. I have 3 teenagers now but when they were little I was in the best shape of my life. I didn’t have any exercise equipment (not even a single dumbbell) nor could I afford to belong to a gym. I really had to get creative!

I was used to running and using the weight machines at the gym before I had kids, so how do I get the same workout with 3 little ones? Well I started using my playtimes with them to get my workouts. This is how I did a total body work out with the kids:

Chest: Lay on your back on the floor and hold one of the kids on your chest and press him/her up and then back down to your chest. Depending on the weight of the child would determine how many presses you do. Since I had more than one, I would take turns with the kids. Repeat.

Back: Lay on the floor on your stomach with arms laying by your side, hands facing down. Your child is laying/sitting in front of your face. Lift chest and hands off the floor keeping arms straight, hold for two seconds while making silly faces or noises. Then return back to the floor. Repeat.

Shoulders: In a standing position, feet shoulder width apart, hold child with both hands arms straight down in front of you by your thighs. Slowly lift child up to where your arms are straight out in front of you then slowly go back down. Repeat.

Biceps: In a standing position, hold your child in a cradle position with arms bent at a 90 degree angle in front of you. Raise child up as far as you can only bending at the elbows, then you can blow bubbles on your childs belly then lower back down to midway and repeat.

Triceps: This one can be tricky, so be careful. Lay on your back on the floor and sit child behind your head while holding onto them under their arms. You may want your child sitting with their back to your head just hold tight if they are tiny. Lift your child extending arms up until your arms are straight above your head. Like I said this can be tricky with bigger children as their feet will hit your face. If this is the problem then you can always do pushups which work more of your chest muscles (which can help “lift things up ) but it does work your biceps and triceps too.

Legs: While holding your child however you feel comfortable you can do squats or lunges. You can also do standing calf raises while holding your child if you want to tune your calves.

Abs: Lay on your back on the floor with your legs bent. Sit your child at the bottom of you abdomen so their back can lean your legs. Then you can do crunches trying to see if you can reach your child on the way up and make silly faces or noises. For babies/tots that are talking you can play games with them like saying the alphabet, colors, songs or whatever they are into.

With all of these exercises do as many as you can, depending on the weight of your child. Once you get used to these exercises you can repeat the whole workout 2-3 times. The faster you go from one exercise to the next raising your heart rate up you can also get a cardio workout in at the same time and burn a lot more calories! Also if you are up to it, during their nap times you can run up and down the stairs (if you have stairs) or you can put on your i-pod/mp3 player and just dance around working up a sweat. See Elementary schoole aged children as some of those exercise ideas may be appropriate for your older tot.

Elementary school aged children:

If you are not working then you can do similar workouts while they are in school using dumbbells instead of the child and again if you do the exercises quickly going from one to the next, repeating the whole set 2-3 times you will also make it a cardio workout getting 2 workouts in one. If you do work then during your playtime with your child you can purchase kids workout videos and do them along with your child. Younger kids really like these and you are instilling a great habit in them! Once they feel they are too “old” for that sort of thing then go outside and play with them. If they are riding a small bike slowly then you can jog next to them or if they are bigger then you can ride your bike with them. Swimming is also a great exercise for you and your child. If you have them in a sport then while they are at practice you can run around the practice field. Get a group of moms together to do this as well. If you can afford it, while the kids are in school join a gym with a great variety of aerobics classes (nowadays they have a lot of fun ones) or you can hire a personal trainer if you don’t like the gym atmosphere. Some women like having someone push them. You can also do these with another mom (or as many moms who may want to join in) and go to the gym classes or some personal trainers now or doing group training and I find they work out a lot harder when working with a friend or two.

Middle School/High School kids:

This is a great time to start doing real exercises with your kids. You can do workouts at home with them or go bike riding or running. I love to go running around the neighborhood or at the local park with my kids. You can also join your local YMCA and they will let your child workout with you if they are 13 or older. Some gyms are also doing this so just call and see what their age requirements are. During the summers or on weekends my kids go work out with me at the gym. When they are busy and don't have time to work out with you a time saving exercise is to exercise while you are watching TV. I usually have a show I like most nights and if I haven't worked out then I will run on my treadmill or use my elliptical and watch my TV show. It takes some getting used to it first but then it will feel like normal instead of sitting on the couch.

My kids have loved learning different exercises to do and since they have been involved with it since they were babies they understand the importance of fitness and while they do love junk food at times they also enjoy learning about healthy foods to eat. They went through stages where they would have preferred pizza every night and moaned when we would have grilled chicken, vegetables and brown rice but they have come around and all like to think of creative healthy dishes. Serve healthy foods and discuss it in a casual manner with them regularly about the positive effects it will have on their body, brain and growing. Do this without yelling at them if they don’t seem interested and they will eventually come around. I usually would say "Did you know..." so it didn't seem like I was lecturing them.

Hope this helps! I know how hard it is to find the time and energy to exercise with kids but it can be a great bonding tool and they will grow up knowing the value of exercise.

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