As a parent, you may feel like you have very little free time, barely any money, and are always exhausted. So your time is precious, your budget is tight and you lack the energy to do anything outside of your normal routine. To be honest you struggle to find the energy for your normal day, so adding anything else to your already packed day is just not going to work.

Lightening the load

That is how I have always felt about the idea of mixing workouts like running and gym work with the crazy busy lifestyle that your average parent leads. So, when I became a parent I started this series as part of my investigation into better ways to stay fit and healthy. My aim is to lighten the load and reduce the pressure you feel by reducing the number of tasks you have to do on a daily basis.

I have achieved this by being smart about how I structure my life and learning lessons from our ancestors who knew how to do this well. Then I set about applying that knowledge, along with more modern understanding, into the modern world we live. At first,

Initially, it may seem challenging as you have a lot to learn, but it can also be enjoyable. In the long run, the benefits will pay off as you start to experience a simpler and more enjoyable life, giving you time to breathe and cherish the special moments.

What options are available

Society tells us that the only way to get fit is by doing one of two things: commonly known as going to the gym and running. Lots of people enjoy both but let me explain why I think there is a better way to get healthy, particularly as a parent by explaining what these activities actually mean.

  1. Going to the gym actually means,
    1. going to a big building where you have to pay a lot of money to enter,
    2. and then do things that make you sweat
    3. while being surrounded by people who look like they are in pain,
  2. Going for a run actually means,
    1. taking time away from your already limited free time or sleep,
    2. getting dressed, leaving the house, and pretending you are being chased or have somewhere to be.
    3. Halfway through, you may realize that you are not actually being chased, and you will need to quickly get back home.
    4. When you do arrive home, you will be so sweaty and smelly that you will need to take a shower and change clothes.

Let your life make you strong

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,
  • Jumping
  • Chores: Tidying up. Shopping, DIY, Cooking, Cleaning: You don’t just movement but you stretch and improve your balance aswell.
  • swimming
  • 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)

Play

The full list is longer, I only jotted down what I could think of. An example of finding the activity in play is Fit for days out: Fit means fun part one part two

As a dad who loves playing tennis, I found it fascinating how tiring it could be to look after a little one. However, playing tennis has helped me gain strength and stamina to keep up with my little one.

I played two tennis leagues from last year until this summer and during that time, I noticed how many things I was doing with my child that helped me stay fit and agile enough to play well. As a result, I have gradually stopped doing tennis-specific training and have started using the everyday activities 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.

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have

Frederick Keonig

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 🙂

Stay safe, make it comfortable

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.

Example workouts

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.

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. If you fancy a change of pace you can learn about slow parenting.

 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.

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