Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Jozi Wahm's Guide to Family Fitness

I often hear moms complaining that they do not have time for exercise. I know from experience that it can be tough to squeeze in a workout with children and since my children were born, I have given up on the notion of ever getting a chance to hit the gym. 

However, there is plenty of truth to the saying that a healthy body equals a healthy mind and I have learnt that the best way to incorporate exercise is to include the entire family (added bonus... kiddies get tired out and sleep better).

When you have a small baby it is a little trickier to exercise. It may be possible to exercise when your baby is sleeping, but the thought of catching up on sleep is probably more appealing. However, in the unlikely event that you got a good night's sleep, nap time may be a suitable time to sneak in a workout.

If that is not an option, here are some other tried and tested ideas:

  • A good baby carrier or wrap will allow you to go for long walks or possibly light jogs (the motion is also likely to soothe smaller babies to sleep). If you happen to own a jogging stroller, even better. 
  • Smaller babies can also be incorporated into exercises (use baby as a weight on your legs during squats or place baby on your tummy, facing you during sit-ups).
  • You can bounce around on a Pilates ball with baby on your lap (this doubles up as an effective technique for putting colicky babies to sleep). Or roll backwards and forwards on the ball (give baby a turn too once they are a few months old, this works well for tummy time to develop those crawling muscles).

Once kids are a little older,the possibilities are endless- running around, cycling,swimming,creating obstacle courses, dancing, skipping games and much more.

Our family exercise staple for weekday evenings is to put on a good exercise DVD and get the whole family to join in. We used to do this before Squish was born and then stopped for a while, but now that he is mobile we have started again. Our old favourites are Tae Bo, Zumba, Pilates and we have also recently discovered the Insanity range. A and I get in our workouts and the little ones jump around and have a good laugh. 

This works really well if time is limited and you need a quick but effective workout.You might not be able to fit in one long workout but two fifteen minute workouts are better than nothing. 

Free exercise apps on your smart phone can be used to similar effect (try the Caynex and Noom ranges for example).

In short, while having little ones around might make implementing fitness routine a little harder, it can definitely be done with a little planning and imagination. Most importantly, don't give up. There may be days (or weeks) where you are just too exhausted to even try exercising but you can always just start again.