If the school holidays are playing havoc with your fitness routine and you’re finding it difficult to carve out time for exercise, here’s some advice from Kimberley Welman, mum of three and founder of the online parents’ support forum and blog ‘Stay Strong Mummy’.
Cardio is an essential part of improving fitness. Obviously if you have the kids in tow this can be tricky, but once they get over being dragged away from their favourite screen they will usually find a trip outdoors in the summer as stimulating as you will.
Speedy exercise ideas
Here are some examples of how you can incorporate some cardio into your busy mummy life:
- A 45-minute walk, bike ride or swim – they are all great for some family exercise.
- Sprints (at the park with the kids): 20 seconds sprinting and 10 seconds rest, for 8 rounds.
- If you have a baby or toddler, walk/run with the stroller. This is great if you’re new to running and want to increase the length of your runs. Start off jogging for 45 seconds, then walk for 1 minute; repeat for 15 minutes. Then try running for 1 minute, walking for 1 minute; repeat for the next 15 minutes. For the final 15 minutes, try running for 2–3 minutes and walking for 1 minute – or slow down to a pace which you can maintain for the last 15 minutes while keeping your heart rate up. A good indication that you are maintaining intensity is that you cannot carry on a conversation while on the move.
That’s all very well, you might be thinking, but I don’t time to exercise! It’s not an easy one I know but it can be done:
How to make time to exercise
- Schedule your workouts into your day in the same way that you schedule an appointment to meet a friend for coffee.
- Set a routine – even if you start exercising for just one day per week, it’s a start!
- Set the alarm 30 minutes earlier than usual.
- Have your workout gear, water bottle and so on, ready to go.
- Prep the night before: know exactly what exercise routine you are going to do the next day.
- Make your workout a priority, then plan your day around it.
- Lose the guilt on making time for yourself.
- Walk and talk on your next coffee date, instead of sitting and chatting.
- Find a park close by and do a 15-minute workout. Ask other mums to join you.
- If you’re in a park, play. Have a go on the monkey bars, play chase with the kids and practise cartwheels. My co-author and friend Victoria is 45 and learned to do her first ever handstand two years ago.
- If you have young babies or infants, workout while they sleep. Your chores can wait for 15 minutes.
- If your babies are awake, set them up on a bouncer next to you and let them watch you jump around.
- If you have a baby that enjoys being in the stroller, go for a walk, but incorporate some walking lunges and while you rock the stroller (or run with your stroller in intervals, as described above).
I’ve been working out with my kids since the twins were around seven months old. I actually stumbled upon the idea of involving them. I’d be outside doing some squats and one of the twins would become a little unsettled. Rather than stop, I’d just pick him up, raise him high, making sure I supported his neck and head, and off I went again. And they absolutely loved it! This technique never failed to turn a baby frown into a baby giggle, and it allowed me to fulfil my exercise goals.
When I was out walking with the kids in the pram I began to sneak in some lunges, rather than just walk. I’d sing to the babies while walking, lunging and walking – and it was a hit!
As the kids got older, they would walk around me, play or ride their bikes while I exercised. It just became part of our routine. As a mum, life was not always predictable, so I had to think outside the box and improvise when it came to finding new ways of incorporating some exercise into our everyday lives. The fitter I got, the more I actually enjoyed finding new ways to exercise with the kids in tow.
Extract taken from Stay Strong Mummy by Kimberley Welman and Victoria Reihana