Fitness and Family Life: Making the Two Work Together

Having a young family means doing a lot of juggling on a daily basis. In the same way that family life can make it hard to manage a nutritious diet every day, finding time to exercise regularly can feel like a real challenge. However, with children’s screen time averaging over two hours a day, the need to encourage the whole family to exercise is greater than ever. In fact, research has shown the positive impact active parents can have on their children’s health and fitness later in life. By putting certain strategies in place, you and your family can make exercise part of your daily routine without having to think about it too much.

Make your home your gym

If you find yourself struggling to get to a gym, bring the gym to you. For example, lift weights at home and use resistance bands for strength exercises. You could invest in some dumbbells or, for a cheaper alternative, use tins of beans or something similar. Additionally, do sit-ups while waiting for the kettle to boil, or jog up and down the stairs instead of walking. The key is to have things that are easily accessible and will prompt you to do a quick workout while you are going about your day-to-day activities in your home. Start with these small goals and then see if you can carve out twenty minutes each day for some high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Benefits of HIIT

This popular form of exercise requires you to do a series of all-out bursts of energy, followed by short periods of recovery. Not only does it burn more calories than other forms of cardiovascular exercise, but studies also show that HIIT slows down the aging process. The latter can feel particularly appealing to those going through the stresses of parenting young children. To ensure you stick to your workout regularly, do it at the same time each day. First thing in the morning can be an effective time; it can be easier to make it part of your routine, and can help keep you energized for the day ahead. And don’t forget to encourage the kids to join in, too!

Use your garden

If you have a backyard or garden, this is an ideal space in which you and your family can exercise. Incidentally, gardening itself is deceptively physical and counts as an effective form of aerobic exercise. Make your kids’ favorite outdoor games part of your exercise regimen. Playing ‘tag’ and frisbee are great forms of aerobic exercise and also test coordination, stamina, and reflexes. You can also make your own obstacle courses, using things like hoops to jump through and tunnels to crawl through. Circuits also make for a fun and effective family-friendly workout. You can incorporate exercises such as jumping, push-ups, jogging, boxing, skipping using ropes and lunges.

Join a postnatal class

For those with babies, joining a postnatal exercise class is a good option. The social element of a weekly class can have a positive impact on your emotional well-being, with studies showing that you are also more likely to exercise regularly in groups. Pilates and yoga are particularly good for core strength and flexibility, which are especially beneficial given how much these things can be affected after having a baby. Another effective way of exercising with a young child (or two) in tow is to run with a stroller. This uses extra calories, and researchers have discovered the exertion used for different ‘stroller pushing’ techniques. It also has the added bonus of freeing up time later in the day, as well as potentially saving you money on childcare.

Organization and resourcefulness

Finding time to exercise regularly when you have a young family can seem difficult, to say the least. However, having young children can also be a spur for you to remain active. You may not be able to head to the gym every day, but you can certainly find ways of working out in more subtle ways. You might be drawn to a postnatal fitness class, or may want to try incorporating HIIT sessions into your daily routine at home. Being active in front of or (even better) with your children is likely to have a positive impact on their desire to exercise, which will, in turn, make you feel good.

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