Fun workouts for busy parents

The excuse people most often make for not exercising is “lack of time,” but the truth is, we’re all busy. Especially as parents. We all have commitments. We all have obligations. We’re all a bit tired and run down, some of the time. It’s up to us to choose to prioritise our life differently and prioritise exercise as part of it.

If we’re really honest with ourselves, perhaps we stay consistently fit, if we planned out our workouts for the week, or we ensured we had a back-up plan for when our kids suddenly became sick, or we could commit to a shorter workout time if we’re not making it to our 1hr fitness class.

Life is always going to be busy, and sometimes stressful and difficult, but it’s learning to weave workouts and other healthy habits into this.

Where there’s a will theres a way.

Below are some ideas for exercising, that might make it more fun for you, and doesn’t mean hours upon hours slogged away in a gym.

  • Post lunchtime incidental exercises should start to include some stretches. If you have a step or a ledge nearby, take 20 seconds to stretch your calves.  While you’re waiting for something to load on the computer stretch your quads. On a telephone call?  Stretch your glutes. Before dinner, see how many sit-ups and push-ups you can do in a minute. While you’re relaxing in the evening, shoulder rolls and neck stretches will relax you. Adapt to incorporate your favourite incidental exercises. It’s about having a repertoire of exercises that take 2 minutes max that can be done between everyday things. Build on them as a routine, adding more each week, until they become a habit.
  • It’s proven that 10-minute spurts of cardio are more effective than 30 minutes straight.  So if you only have 10 minutes, do 10 minutes of cardio, which can be a mixture of skipping, burpees – for technique look at http://www.wikihow.com/Do-a-Burpee – and star jumps, followed by push-ups and sit-ups.
  • Muscle tone, posture maintenance and joint range of motion can be achieved on a daily basis without even entering a gym. It’s a matter of incidental exercise. If you wake up a little stiff and inflexible, start the day with some exercises to loosen you up and get the blood pumping. If you have stairs at home, go down them, then up, then down again before putting the kettle on. While the kettle is on you should be able to get 10 squats in. Of course posture is paramount – straight back, shoulders down and back, chin tucked in, pelvis tucked under, heels on the floor.
  • A great exercise to work your abs to a flatter tummy is the plank. It’s important to use the correct form so click on the link to check that you are doing it right.wikihow.com/Perform-the-Plank-Exercise. Start a plank competition with the kids – who can hold it the longest!
  • Want to sculpt and tone your arms? The best way is to use a mixture of two to three kilo weights and resistance bands. If you don’t have these? Use a variety of sized canned food from the cupboard. By doing low weights and high repetitions, this ensures that you don’t overload and bulk the muscles. Resistance bands are light and easy to travel with and can be used anywhere.
  • While you may think intense exercising on detox days might supercharge your fat loss, it can backfire by revving up your appetite. Additionally, because you are not consuming protein and carbohydrates in levels that support optimal post-exercise repair and recovery, intense exercise on a detox day can cause fatigue, muscle damage and injury.
  • Have fun with exercise. There are lots of fun activities to do either on your own or with the kids. Bike riding, skating and scooters are all great for toning legs and bums. And kicking a soccer ball around with your kids can give you a great workout if you put some effort in.

  • Take your workout onto the water. Research shows that people who take to the water enjoy their workouts more than those who stick to dry land.  Swimming provides low-impact resistance, which keeps you from fatiguing quickly so you can keep going longer for bigger burns and fitness gains. Or get fit on top of the water with an activity like paddle boarding. It is a true total-body workout, requiring you to engage your legs, butt and core for balance and stability, while you work your arms, back and core to power you through the water. It also trains your balance and focus. Start with a long, wide board that provides stability, and gradually switch to shorter, narrower boards for a bigger challenge.
  • Be creative with exercises that you can do at your desk. Hold onto your chair and do 20 squats 3 x during the day. Or whilst sitting at your desk, try squeezing your glutes and kick your leg out for quad extensions.
  • Struggling to fit your workout into your day? Many studies show that we benefit more from exercising in the morning than at night. Try getting into the habit of setting your alarm early so you can get your workout in before the madness of the day begins, and before your muscle-building fat busting Shake breakfast. Get out for an early morning run or walk, or put on your favourite exercise DVD. It can be tough getting out of bed early, but plan but what you are going to do, get your exercise clothes out ready before you go to bed and just do it! Focus on the feeling once you’re done, it wakes you up, gives you the energy to get through the day and gets it out of the way.  Focus on those happy endorphins after!

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