The thought of squeezing in daily fitness for you and your children may seem far-fetched when the hustle and bustle of life leaves you yearning for time to relax, but it’s not impossible to carve out time during your day for it. In fact, nannies and parents can combine quality time with fitness time on a regular basis by coupling daily activities with creative exercises.
Build Exercise Into Everything You Do
According to Tara Marie Segundo, New York-based fitness expert and personal trainer, the key is to incorporate exercise into your regular routine. If you have a few moments here and there, take advantage of those small pockets of time for movement and the time will add up, she says.
“At the grocery store, carry two baskets rather than push a cart,” she suggests. “It’s an instant arm workout and your heart will beat faster while carrying a heavy load.” Grab a basket for you and one for each child while picking out your favorite foods to tone up your arms. Pick up the pace, too, and take a brisk walk through the store while filling up those baskets.
You can also pick up the pace entering and exiting stores to get your heart rate up, says Segundo. “Park your car out in the boonies and walk far and fast to the stores,” she suggests. “Wear comfy sneakers so you won’t be tempted to slow down.”
Keep your sneakers on while at home to maximize your opportunities for workouts. Opt for outdoor activities and chores that will get you moving versus sitting, suggests Segundo. “Using a riding lawn mower? Why bother?” she says. “Use a lawn mower that you have to push and get moving.” Take turns cutting the grass and share the benefits of both an arm and leg workout.
Indoor chores can provide a strenuous workout for the entire family, too. “Set a timer and challenge yourself to go as fast as you can,” says Segundo. “You will not only finish in record time, but you will get out of breath.”
You and the kids can also increase your heart rate while vacuuming, dusting and mopping, says Corinne Crabtree, wellness expert and founder of Phit-n-Phat.com. “While vacuuming, rather than walking, you can do walking lunges forward, backward and to the sides,” she says. “As you dust, stay in a squatted position like you are holding the squat. Squat up and down as you dust and reach.”
Incorporating exercise into your daily cleaning may also help spruce up the dirtiest areas of your home. “Rather than mopping with a mop, get on your hands and toes with a wet rag and dry rag,” says Crabtree. “Plank walk across the floor scrubbing with the wet and drying with the other. This will not only tighten those abs, but it strengthens your shoulders and chest.”
Use What You Have Available
Keep up the family’s momentum by tackling the stairs to strengthen your quads while cleaning. Make it fun for the kids by marching up and down to your favorite tunes. Segundo suggests setting the timer and running up and down the stairs for 3-minute intervals multiple times throughout the day. “Keep track of your efforts and watch the minutes add up,” she says.
You don’t need a gym membership or a home full of exercise equipment to get the best workout. Instead, turn your body into a gym. “Do jumping jacks, jog in place with high knees or spring for a jump rope and jump like crazy,” says Segundo.
Take a random break from work or play for some resistance training with the kids. “Use your body weight for quick spurts of resistance training, such as squats, push-ups, abdominal crunches, plies or isometric exercises,” says Segundo. “Your body will remember every contraction.” You can even turn the exercise session into a lesson by having the kids count each squat or push up and recording it in a family exercise log.
Get creative with canned goods and increase your strength with some weight training. Give each child a canned food jar and work out arms together. You can even incorporate exercise into a game of pass the canned good after five reps.
“Exercise need not be formal,” says Segundo. “The body tallies up all the movement you do. If you always move every chance you get, you will burn calories when you would otherwise be sedentary.”