Take advantage of spare moments to tune your body up.
Too busy to exercise? That’s a familiar lament from moms everywhere. And yet, healthy adults need 20 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise at least three times a week. On top of that, adults should also tone muscles and build strength by doing area-specific exercises and using weights or dumbbells.
Sound impossible given your schedule? It isn’t. The trick is to take advantage of any downtime or other opportunity that naturally arises during your busy day. Here are some examples of how you can do it. Once you get into the swing of it, it will become second nature to exercise during your spare moments.
Soccer Practice: The next time you take your child to soccer, do a brisk 20-minute walk around the field while still enjoying watching your child participate. Get some other moms to join in and make it an enjoyable group event!
Stair Climbing: This is another great way to get some aerobic activity. When your kids are outside playing, at school, having a nap, or when you are putting the laundry away, take the opportunity to climb the stairs for five or 10 minutes. This will help to strengthen your calf muscles and work your heart and lungs. After a week, increase your time and speed if possible.
Vacuuming: This activity already gives you a mild cardio workout. Take it to the next level by adding lunges as you push the vacuum. This will work your leg muscles, increase your heart rate, and help you burn fat more efficiently. Your vacuuming will also be done in less time. Use the extra minutes to do a few abdominal curls, modified push-ups or stretching to increase flexibility.
Power Stroller Walk: Get some fresh air for baby and a workout for you by going on a power stroller walk. Get other moms on the street to join in. Twenty minutes will do it. If the terrain along your route has some hills, all the better for your heart and lungs.
Ideally, you’ll want to work on toning various muscle groups with area-specific exercises and weights at least twice a week. Use any combination of the exercises described at left, doing one or two sets with 8 to 12 repetitions for each. You should purchase a pair of dumbbells (start with 5 lbs) and keep them in an easily accessible place.
When to do it? How about during your baby or toddler’s mid-morning or afternoon nap? Or while dinner is in the oven and the kids are setting the table. You’ll only need about 10-20 minutes. Increase your workout by doubling up on exercises. For instance, do some squats with bicep curls, lunges with lateral arm raises, or ab curls with back extensions.
Yoga and/or stretching are great ways to loosen muscles, help your body recover quicker, prevent injuries and relax your busy mind. After the kids have gone to bed, pop your yoga DVD in and relax with some yoga poses and breathing techniques. If you don’t have a yoga DVD or don’t feel comfortable doing yoga you can always take yourself through some static stretches.
I have included a variety of exercises you can pick and choose from when you have a spare moment to fit something in on the fly.
Squats: Stand with feet hip width apart. Place hands on hips and bend knees 45-90 degrees. Bring the hips back and chest slightly forward to counter balance. Hold, straighten and repeat.
Modified Push Up: Lay on tummy on the floor, keeping knees together. Place palms slightly wider than shoulder width and push chest and tummy away from the floor, extending arms. When descending, bend arms to only 90 degrees, so chest and tummy do not touch the floor.
Dumbbell Lateral Raises: Holding dumbbells in either hand along the length of the thigh, slowly raise arms outward to shoulder level, then slowly drop.
Lunges: Take a big step forward with one leg, then descend slowly by bending at the hips, knees and ankles. While descending, maintain weight distribution between the heels and mid-foot. Repeat up and down movement.
Ab Crunches: Lie on the floor on your back, knees bent. Placing hands on upper legs, slowly lift your torso so your finger tips are reaching towards your knees caps. Gradually draw lower belly in as you are lifting.
Bird Dogs: Kneeling on all fours, raise opposite arm and leg, extending limbs fully. Then reverse.
Dumbbell Arm Curls. Holding dumbbells in either hand, with palms facing up, slowly curl your arms towards you bending at the elbow.