It can be tough finding time to work out when you're a parent, but there are times during the day in which you can squeeze a few minutes of beneficial exercies or stretches. There are also ways in which you can incorporate your little ones into your exercises. Osteopath and mum Sarah Boughtwood shares her favourite ways to include kids in exercises.
First up, how to fit in exercise. Are you the type who likes to plan, or to do things on the fly? If you're a planner, try sitting down every Sunday night and mapping out your week, for example, what exercises or body regions you want to exercise, and on which days.
I also advise my clients to start off with small goals. Don’t expect to start off doing 60-minute sessions, five days a week to begin with, unless you are an ‘all or nothing personality’. Small, achievable goals make it far more likely that you will succeed. We all have off-days and bad nights with babies waking, days where babies only want to be held. Don’t be hard on yourself; you can only do your best. Aim to build up to 20-30 minutes, four times a week.
And remember, make it fun! If you're doing an exercise with kids, make them laugh (it's the best form of medicine)! This might be as simple as turning up the music and having a dance!
Ten ways you could exercise
Here are some ways to incorporate kids into your exercises and stretches
Lying on the floor, legs bent up to 90 degree’s, with knee’s together. Tummy & pelvic floor muscles tight, then curl up. To add in children, try your child lying on your legs, then curl up. To add on to this exercise, you can straighten your legs out and away from your body and curl them back in. You should feel the burn in your tummy muscles. If you are straining your neck, rest your head on the floor.
One leg forwards and other leg behind, both knees slightly bent, curl pelvis/hips under, then bend knees and lower down towards the floor. To include children into this exercise, you can place them in a front pack or hold on one hip, keep in mind your posture and pushing that hip sideways.
Standing with your feet apart (the further apart your feet are the more the glut and hamstrings muscles are targeted) and slightly turned out. Your knees have a slight bend, and then further bend your knee’s and hips. To keep your spine in a good alignment, keep looking straight ahead. You do not want the curve in your lower back to increase. The depth of your squat depends on your flexibility. Keep your feet flat on the floor, without your heels rising up. To increase the exercise put your child in a front pack or hold them in front of your chest. Just keep your posture in mind.
Lying on the floor, with your feet shoulder width apart, tighten your pelvic floor and tummy muscles, and then push up through your heels. Make sure your knees remain shoulder width apart and do not start to drop inwards. If your knees fall inwards you can place a soft medium sized ball between your knees and squeeze on it. To further increase this exercise, once in the bridge position, raise one leg out straight, then return it’s resting position and do the same for the opposite leg. Make sure your pelvis and hips remain still, rather than rocking side to side. Kids aren't quite so helpful for this one, although if your child is oldenough to crawl, they could crawl under the 'bridge'!
Standing with your hips and feet shoulder width apart, tighten your tummy and pelvic floor muscles, then rise up onto your toes, then relax and repeat. To change this exercise turn your feet out, again tighten tummy and pelvic floor and rise up onto toes. To further this exercise, rise up onto toes, then squat bottom down and hold. You can hold onto a table for support if required. To add a child to this exercise, pop baby in the front pack or hold your toddler with their legs wrapped around your waist.
Glutleal muscles stretch
Lying on your back, bend one leg up to 90 degrees, then the opposite leg is crossed over the bent leg, with your ankle resting on the opposite thigh. Reach through and grab behind your thigh. Gently pull the bent leg towards your chest. You should feel the stretch in the back of your thigh and buttocks region. Hold for 30 seconds.
Sarah Boughtwood is a Takapuna, Auckland osteopath specialising in back pain and pregnancy. Sarah is dressed by Stirling Sports Takapuna.