Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Working out with baby

"I just don't have the time" is not an excuse.

Everyone has the time. There's no need to go to a gym, sign up for classes, buy expensive equipment or make a big deal out of it. Everyone can spare one hour a day to work out. No matter what your reponsibilities - whether you are a working single professional or a stay-at-home mom - you can find an hour a day.

If you don't have the responsibility of children, there's no excuse whatsoever. Even if you work twelve hours a day, there's plenty of time to fit in a little exercise. Half an hour's walk or jog before work or after dinner and taking the stairs instead of the elevator will take care of your cardio - you don't have to buy a fancy elliptical machine or treadmill for the basement or register for a ten-week aerobics class or pay for a gym membership, pack a bag and drive across town to get in a bit of a workout. If it's pouring rain, forego the walk and pop in a Pilates DVD instead of channel surfing for half an hour before bed.

Ideally, hire a personal trainer to put you on a program and tell them what you're looking for - a trainer can assess your fitness level, teach you the exercises you need to do, and give you a program you can follow at home on your own with minimal equipment other than some inexpensive hand weights or resistance bands and your own body. This can be done for a relatively affordable one-time fee and in only a few visits.

If you're a mom - working or not - there simply isn't the luxury of a few hours' free time. But that still doesn't excuse you from working out while you're mommying. A baby or toddler can be strapped into a stroller for a walk. Bigger kids are always clamouring to go for a bike ride - lace up your running shoes and walk or jog alongside them. Maybe you genuinely don't have the "alone time" to devote to an exercise video or the program your trainer has put you on. If your children are literally on top of you twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week...incorporate them in your workout.

My older kids love working out with me. They used to come with me to work when they were younger and had a day off school to "help" me teach Body Sculpt, Stretch & Tone, and Aquafit classes. I do my workout at home as if it was a class and they do all the exercises right along with me, laughing the whole time - for kids, exercise isn't work or a task to be completed. For kids, exercise is fun. As adults, we should try to have the same attitude. Why not just crank some of your favourite tunes and have a dance party with the kids?

If you have a baby or toddler, you can still incorporate him into your exercise routine. If your cardio has already been taken care of with a brisk stroller walk through the neighbourhood or a twenty-minute dance party in the living room, it doesn't take a lot of time out of each day to fit in some strength and toning exercises to get your body back into tight, toned, pre-baby shape.

Here are a few simple suggestions for incorporating Baby into your workout:

(Make sure your movements are careful and controlled and make sure you're holding Baby tight!)

20 calf raises holding Baby on your left hip
20 calf raises holding Baby on your right hip
10 squats holding Baby to your chest
10 lunges per leg holding Baby to your chest
10 leg lifts (straighten legs seated in chair) holding Baby sitting on your knees
10 standing overarm raises (arms down at hips to up at eye level) holding Baby with straight arms
10 standing torso twists (feet planted, turn left to right & back) holding Baby with straight arms
20 abdominal crunches, holding Baby sitting on lower abdominal area
10 chest presses (lying on back, hold Baby at chest, lift & lower)
Repeat whole set.

Obviously, these are just some suggestions; and obviously, these exercises don't cover every single muscle group in the body. But it's a start! Try pulling out the yoga mat and lying down for some leg work or abdominal work - an infant will laugh watching you, and an active baby or toddler will lie down to try to copy your moves. The free weights or resistance bands may have to wait until Baby is napping or asleep for the night, but you only need to find another ten or fifteen minutes three times a week to take care of those muscle groups you can't otherwise isolate to work when Baby's all on top of you.

No matter how busy or hectic your life, your job, your family, your schedule, you can find the time. There's simply no excuse for not working out - even a high-maintenance baby.

(Not intended as advice; always consult a health professional before beginning any exercise program.)

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