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Workout Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents

Exercising with Kids Brings Plenty of Possibilities
  -- By Liza Barnes, Health Educator
When I was pregnant with my daughter I asked a friend of mine, a mother of three, “Don’t you get bored staying home with the kids all day?” Looking amused she replied, “Oh, I find stuff to do.” Now that my own daughter is one-year-old, I know why this question entertained my friend…
 
Between nursing, changing diapers, preparing meals (and cleaning up after those meals), visiting the playground, and trying to squeeze in a shower, being bored is something I wish for! Life as a stay-at-home parent isn’t all about Bon-Bons and soap operas (thank goodness!). Stay-at-home parents work just as hard as those who clock in elsewhere, and often find themselves stuck in the same no-time-to-exercise trap. 
 
Regular workouts can bring peace to your day and fitness to your body. If you’re desperate for fitness but can’t seem to find the time, all you need is some planning and a little creativity.   
 
8 Ways to Work-In a Workout
 
  1. Exercise with your kids. If your kids are old enough, let them bike while you run or rollerblade. Hiking makes for a fun family activity that keeps everyone shape. Or, create a fitness course in the backyard, complete with jump rope, jumping jack, and pushup stations.
     
  2. Invest in a jogging stroller or a “kid trailer” for your bike. When you’re pushing or pulling one of these, you’re sure to get a good workout—your kids will enjoy it too! Another current trend is the StrollerFit class, where parents (with their stroller-age children) utilize strollers for a cardiovascular and strength-building workout. 
     
  3. Strap baby to you in a baby carrier. If your baby is too young to feel comfortable in a stroller, you can still exercise together. There are many comfortable baby carriers on the market, including slings, front carriers, and backpacks. Adding 10-20 pounds to your frame for a walk will boost calorie burn, helping you shed those extra pounds. And babies love to be held close to you. In fact, touching enhances brain development in infants, so as you get fitter, baby gets smarter!
     
  4. Join a gym with child-care, or add it to your membership. Whether you don’t enjoy the great outdoors, or you live in a climate with blustery winters or lots of rain, outdoor exercise with the kids is not always an option. On-site childcare facilities offer convenience, and the peace of mind that if your child needs you, you’re only an intercom page away. Some gyms even have fitness classes for kids, so while you pump iron, the munchkins learn how to do the grapevine.
     
  5. Sign up for parent-baby yoga classes. If these are offered in your area, parent-baby yoga classes can help you build strength and stamina, reduce stress, and provide you another opportunity to bond with your child.
     
  6. Purchase some exercise videos. Yoga, Pilates, low-impact aerobics, and kickboxing can all be done on your living room floor with little or no equipment. Before you buy, rent a few from your local video store or check them out from the library to see which ones you like. BUY IT! SparkPeople's new Cardio Blast DVD features six 10-minute workouts that are easy to fit into your day!

  7. Improvise. If you miss your aerobics class because of a marathon naptime, pop in an exercise video or do lunges in the backyard with the baby monitor hooked to your pants. Don’t stress if you don’t get that perfect workout in every time. With exercise, doing some is always better than doing none.
     
  8. Most importantly, put exercise on your “to-do” list. Make it a priority. If that means getting up an hour early for a run, then set the alarm and go for it. (To "Learn to Love AM Exercise," click here.) You’ll benefit in countless ways, plus you’ll be a happier, more peaceful parent for your kids.