I’m currently participating in a weight loss challenge. (Now, in the comments you’re all supposed to say, “Why on earth would you think you need to lose weight, Anne?” awww, you’re sweet! ) But seriously, I just want to finally feel fit and healthy, so I’m using the challenge as the motivation to continue practicing healthy habits.
With little ones, it can be challenging to go to the gym, especially with a set routine. It seems like I can get in a regular schedule, and then the baby starts puking one day, or the oldest has a field trip for school, or we go on vacation. Does any of that sound familiar in your house?
I’ve had to get creative to stay active and reach my weight loss goals. Some of these ways you’ve probably tried and just didn’t realize the benefits you were getting.
There are the obvious activities you can participate with your children. You can go for walks or hikes. This is a great opportunity to talk with your children, observe your surroundings, teach about safety, etc., but walking with your kids is not a heart-pumping activity. It’s just a nice way to spend time together, instead of sitting on the couch. The jogging stroller is one exception that will enable you to get your heartrate up and be with your children. Carrying a baby in a backpack while hiking can also get your heartrate up.
Family bike rides are a lot of fun as well, but it isn’t enough with my oldest on his own bike, and I’m not comfortable going fast enough to consider it exercise when my baby is in the seat on the back of my bike. If I want to count bike rides as exercise, I have to go alone, and pretend I’m trying to qualify for the Tour de France. Here I come, Lance Armstrong!
One of my oldest’s favorite ways to exercise with me is jumping on the trampoline. Did you know that jumping on the trampoline can burn an average of 300 calories in an hour? And you’re having fun with your kids at the same time. We play games while we are jumping. His favorite is “Missed me, missed me, now you gotta kiss me.” I just taught him that rhyme a few weeks ago, and I wish I could go back in time, because that’s all he wants to play now. *sigh We also play Ring Around the Rosie, and of course, Crack the Egg, or Cook the Bacon. An hour of jumping goes by fairly quickly when you are playing games and having fun.
I found this information from livestrong.com “The benefits of using a trampoline to burn calories and increase fitness were researched by NASA. They found that 10 minutes bouncing on a trampoline is a more efficient cardiovascular workout than over 30 minutes of running. The report states that ‘for similar levels of heart rate and oxygen consumption, the magnitude of the biomechanical stimuli is greater with jumping on a trampoline than with running.'”
I also use my children as weights when I am trying to fit in cardio and weight lifting exercises. But that doesn’t mean I think my children are dumbbells. (Hah, I’m on one today!) My baby’s favorite exercise is upward thrusters. I hold him under his armpits and squat then stand and toss him gently in the air. Catch with a half-squat and stand again. Repeat for an entire set. I typically perform 20 reps in each set. But I move on to a different exercise between sets so I don’t get puked on.
This article from Men’s Health talks about the cardio, weight loss, and toning benefits of thrusters. There’s also a video with this article about how to perform this exercise with proper form. I’ll save my proper form soapbox lecture for another post.
While I’m waiting for my baby’s stomach to settle, I will do lunges with my oldest. He weighs about 60 pounds, so it’s a good amount of weight for me to lift. Obviously, use your best judgement in the exercises you perform with your children based on their weight and your fitness level. He climbs on my back piggy-back style, and I will do a total of 40 lunges, 20 down one side of the room, turn around, and 20 on the other side. He thinks it’s great fun, I’m involving my kiddos in my daily schedule, and setting the example of health.
Livestrong.com explains the benefits of lunges, “Lunge workouts increase lower-body strength while shaping and toning your quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes. Additional benefits include improved flexibility and form for running, dancing and sports such as tennis, soccer and basketball. Lunging is a high-intensity exercise. The Health Status website estimates that a 150-pound person burns 275 calories during a 30-minute lunging workout.” So in other words, if you want a cute caboose, do your lunges!
Push-ups can also be accomplished with a piggy-back rider, just be careful if you have back problems, this would not be a good exercise for you with your children.
Push-ups help strengthen your core, your shoulders, your triceps, your biceps, and your back. An all-around good upper body workout, and I hate them!
But not as much as I hate burpees. If you don’t know what a burpee is (I’m not talking about newborns after feeding), do a search on the internet, there’s a myriad of videos talking about the benefits of burpees and the proper form to complete one. They are great exercise, and they work just about every muscle in the body, and that’s why I don’t like them, okay, but secretly, yes, I do like them, but I can never find the motivation to do very many.
The one way I will do more than 10 burpees in a row is through what I call the Bob Harper Card workout. I don’t know how many of you saw his face card workout on the Biggest Loser a few seasons ago, but I love it, and I use it at night when I want a quick workout that has high intensity. Basically you grab a deck of face cards and assign each suit a different exercise. I try to correlate the picture for the suit with a different exercise. For example, spades are thrusters, diamonds are jumping jacks, hearts are burpees, and clubs are pushups. You can assign any exercise you like to any suit. You can go through the deck with one set of assignments, change the suit exercise and go through it again. I can complete a deck in about 30 minutes. The face value of the card is the number of reps you complete (2 through 10), and face cards are worth 10, but aces are worth 11. If you want to challenge yourself more, face cards are 11, and aces are 12.
You can involve your kids in this exercise because they get to be the card flippers. This makes it more interesting because they scatter the cards, so you end up doing the same card more than once (in my case it’s usually the ace of hearts three or four times, aaahhh). Then they laugh at your reaction when any heart comes up (yes, I love burpees that much).
My oldest has gotten to the point that he tries to accomplish some of the exercises with me, and it becomes a family activity. He doesn’t get spared my lecture on proper form, because I don’t want him to get hurt.
Some of the other fun exercises with the kiddos include swimming, dancing, tickle fights, wrestling, and racing. These are great activities that will increase your heart rate, and theirs, and will create a bond that your children will remember long after the activities are over.
Enjoy your time with your children, but take care of yourself as well. Use some of these tips to combine both priorities and have fun while staying healthy!
linked at savvysouthernstyle.net