So you are a parent, you have no free time on your hands, probably little money and you are always tired. Yet somehow some bright spark decreed that getting fit can only be done either
1) In a big building that you have to pay lots of money to enter and then do stuff that makes you sweat. You will spend a lot of time around people that look like they are in pain, probably because they are and you will feel the pressure to put yourself through pain too. This is known as a gym.
2) You have to take from your little free time or your sleeping time, get changed, leave the house and pretend you are being chased or that you need to get somewhere quickly, then half way through realise that you are not being chased and that you suddenly have to be at home and hence get back quickly. When you get home you are so wet, sticky and smelly you need a shower and change of clothes. This is also known as running.
Do either of those activities sound like fun to you? They don’t to me either and I didn’t do a degree in sports science just to end up with only these options. True there are lots of other forms of workout you can put up there but I am very much of the opinion that working out is more effective and more useful if done as part of your day using the challenges you face.
As a parent I find this even more true because taking care of little ones is not just what humans are designed for but it can be the best work out of your life, if you put your mind to it.
Your day IS your workout
I’m going to list some of the things my wife and I do as parents that are part of our daily diet of exercise. Rather than bore you with the science I will just point out that much of it you would actually do if you were training for a sport. The difference would simply be that you would do the same movements but with specific tools like weights and pulleys. This might surprise you but it is the truth.
So here is the list:
Lifts: Challenging your body with weight. Getting your whole body to coordinate lifting a weight.
- Changing table
- Into the car seat
- Buggy into the car
- Carrying them up the stairs
- Piggy back squats: Mini dude loves piggy backs and it is quite a work out getting up from the ground and then walking around with him.
- bicep curls, part of lifting from the front like picking them up for a cuddle
- into the chair for a meal
- For a cuddle
Runs: Challenging your body with speed. Getting your blood flowing fast, challenging your energy systems
- Tag, yep I am known for playing tag when I drop little one off at nursery
- Round the play area, garden
- To get somewhere faster 🙂
General movement: Teaching your body to move in different ways and asking it to strengthen in ways that will support more fun.
- Dancing, with kids you don’t have to be any good at it you can just join in
- Sports: Football, Tennis, Catch,
- Chores: Tidying up. Shopping, DIY, Cooking, Cleaning: You don’t just movement but you stretch and improve your balance aswell.
- Days out, zoos, theme parks (These easily get you over 10k steps for the day but think of all the extra weight you have carried)
As a dad who loves playing tennis I found it fascinating how tiring it could be looking after a little one and how much playing tennis could get me the strength and stamina I need to look after a little one.
I was playing two tennis leagues from last year up until this summer and over that time I started to notice how many things I was doing with my little one that helped me stay fit and agile enough to play well. From that I have slowly been dropping tennis specific training and just using the acts of being a parent to get the strength, endurance and flexibility I need.
Healthy fun and energy
The point is very much that everyone says how they had the best health when they were young. My sport science training explains clearly to me why this is the case but it is hard to convey what I learnt because it involved years of study. It is much easier to explain that your little ones are healthy because they have so much fun and energy. keeping up with your little one and joining in their fun is how you get the same benefits.
Now I know I am not alone in enjoying looking after my kids but I don’t think everyone realises just how much fun and natural movement there is to be had in the average parenting day. So I would love for you guys to share your tips with me.
That way we can all save the time, energy and money needed to stay healthy the way we are told and instead spend that time energy and money on enjoying our lives instead.
Who is with me 🙂
Of course I must be clear that I make sure I do all this safely. I have been training in gyms for years and still follow the same rules of warming up, keeping the area around me tidy, warming up and watching where I go. It is always better to stop before you get too tired. Essentially never push so hard you couldn’t comfortably push further.
Follow that rule and you will always have fun.
I am slowly building a list of days that show how I use my time with my son to get fit and healthy. The beauty is the fun and variation we get to have and also that by learning how to be healthy with my son I am also teaching him how to be healthy through having fun. That is a lesson that will benefit us both for the whole of our lives.
- A play day at the family gym
- World Cyclocross Championships
- Christmas lights switch on
- Can both of you have fun when your little one is ill?
- How I enjoyed christmas and got fitter!!!
- Cats the musical
- Halving your shopping bill
- Toddlers and Ikea
- I want to be a pilot!!!
Want to know how simple movements restore you?
In case you want to know a little more about how general movement can improve your health, Katy Bowman has a wonderful book I just read (or listened to as an audio book!) called Move your DNA and is accompanied by a great website moveyourdna.com.
I liked her approach so much I’ve included a short video, so please let me know what you think. I don’t get any fees for promoting Katy’s work I just promote what I like and Katy says in a very approachable way the kinds of things I want to convey about the benefits of natural movement.
How do I create a parent workout?
If you want some tips on creating a parent workout then the first thing you must do is understand how you use the fuels stored in your body. Being a parent takes a lot of energy and my latest course Energy Matters will teach you how to make everything easier by learning to access all the energy available to your body, instead of just some of it.
There are limited places so register now for Energy Matters