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Parents consider their children to be bundles of joy, but they would also readily agree that looking after them takes up considerable time and energy. Often, it can feel like there’s barely enough time to breathe, let alone find the time to hit the gym.
But parents don’t necessarily have to give up exercise completely once children enter the picture – all it takes is some rethinking of what a gym session looks like.
1. Exercising in short bursts
Strength training or high intensity interval training both requires significantly shorter blocks of time compared to running at the gym. In fact, you don’t even have to go to a gym.
Exercising in short bursts multiple times a day can be just as effective as an hour-long session at the gym. Each workout need only last for 10 intense minutes, and it can be done before the children wake, while they’re napping or after bedtime. You could also share the load with your spouse and take turns watching the kids while the other sneaks in a quick workout.
2. Using your toddler to add weight to your exercises
Exercise like sit-ups, push-ups and squats can all be modified to incorporate your little one. Doing so encourages children to cultivate an active lifestyle from a young age, helps them release some of their energy (for uninterrupted sleep later!) and creates extra bonding time.
Holding your toddler out at arm’s length facing you while you perform squats will not only add body weight (equivalent to a sandbag or a weighted vest) and tone your arms, but also lots of laughter as your toddler gets to bounce up and down, over and over.
Similarly, increase engagement with your child while doing push-ups by having them lie on your back to increase total body weight, or on the floor facing you to give them a kiss with every push-up.
If you like to exercise outdoors, go for a run while pushing your kids in a jogging stroller. Not only is resistance added to your routine, your child’s excitement from feeling the wind on their faces during a sprint would surely distract from the drudgery of mindless pounding.
3. Make exercise a family event
There are many ways to instil an appreciation for activity through fun. Play your child’s favourite songs and have a dance party, go for post-dinner walks or even turn exercise into TV commercial break games with rewards if they complete a full set of tasks.
If you have a pet dog, let your toddler to take charge while walking it together.
Allowing children ownership and responsibility encourages them to have self-confidence, which could motivate them to walk longer distances and get more exercise.
Remember, having children and an active lifestyle aren’t mutually exclusive. Taking good care of your own body allows you to have the energy to better provide for your children every day.