Too busy to exercise? Think again.
It’s a busy world these days. Even with all of our technological advances, work takes up the bulk of our time during the week, and busy parents are challenged to find spare time for themselves, much less exercise. However, current health guidelines from the AMA suggest at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity per day plus ten minutes of stretching, so how does a busy person find this time? The answer: one minute at a time.
Ditch your car as often as possible. Instead of driving to get to work or run errands, try walking, biking, skating, or scootering (a side note: if you have not yet ridden a Razor Scooter this lifetime, you’re missing out) . If you are dropping your child off at school, park a half mile away and walk together. Walk with your children in the afternoons and weekends. Use part of your lunch break to walk or take an after-dinner stroll.
There are many ways to bike with small children. Bicycle seats can be front or rear-mounted, and two additional children up to 80 lbs. can be towed behind in a bicycle trailer. Now that’s a workout! Older children can ride behind on a trail-a-bike, which essentially makes your bike into a tandem. Kids who have mastered two wheels can ride to school and after-school activities.
Make more of your family time physical time. Roller skate or scooter in your driveway or hit the school black top after hours. Play frisbee, baseball, basketball, or kickball together. Take a hike or explore the nearest city on foot.
Add on minutes in creative ways whenever you can. Do squats, releves or leg lifts while dinner is cooking or heating things in the microwave. Throw in some sit-ups and pushups or lift hand weights while the kids do homework. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Turn on the music after dinner and have a living room dance-a-thon.
Things really do add up a minute by minute. Every time you capitalize on a few minutes here and there, your bottom line is looking better and better. Regular exercise can be woven into the most complex lifestyles in creative ways. Is it worth it? Do the math.
The way we walk in the world says a lot about who we are
. Whether your walk is springy, shuffling, or swaggering, it is a statement. Some walk gently on tiptoe, others pound the pavement with splayed feet… but when working with children, teaching them to walk correctly and with confidence will help them move forward.
To work with walking in a class setting, begin by having everyone walk normally, in any direction they choose. Have students begin to notice their own walking styles. Do they move slowly or quickly? Heel first or toe first? What happens with their arms as they walk?
Next, try playing with some exaggerated walks. Walk slowly and carefully, placing the heel first, then rolling through the foot to complete each step. Kids can walk like different animals, such as ducks, horses, or frogs. Try taking huge steps with the arms swinging, and then contrast that and take tiny tiptoe steps. Walk very quickly, then very slowly.
Finally, encourage students to come up with their own variations, each person taking a turn at leading. Walk like an Egyptian, walk backwards, or try a kicking walk. Who knows what other funny interpretations might arise.
Walking is one of the first skills we develop, and one of the best forms of exercise. It’s also a whole lot of fun to explore the many different ways it can be done.
Every Sunday morning in the Bay Area, more than one hundred people gather to dance and sweat their hearts out. What makes the event even truly unique is the eclectic mixture of the group.
Grandmas dance alongside glittery, hoola-hooping twenty-somethings, a sprinkling of enthusiastic children flit throughout the crowd and balance on their parent’s backs and shoulders, and there are even a few young babies strapped to their mothers or fathers (with proper ear protection, of course). Scanning the crowd and taking it all in suddenly gives the term “all-inclusive” an entirely different meaning. As a parent, it is a wonderful reminder that it is possible to share many of our passions and interests with our children, and while parenting does often involve a certain level of sacrifice, there are some things that we cannot and should not give up, because they hold something of value for the whole family.
In the end, the deeper message is this: while it is a given truth that being a parent means there is a whole lot less “my time”, perhaps there is a way to think a little bit more creatively and expansively, in terms of “our time”. For instance, instead of foregoing a home yoga practice in the living room because of potential interruptions from your kids, try putting the yoga mat down and letting them join in. Try working out when and if you need and want to, with your kids by your side. All too often parents have the ingrained belief that exercise needs to be something they do without kids.
However, an important opportunity is lost in the process: children miss out on the benefit of a positive example of seeing the adults in their lives make physical health a priority. By sharing that time together, everyone wins, and positive lifelong physical habits are born.
NOTE: This week I am very excited to be taking part in a blog chain that is sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center. I invite you to visit the next link in the chain, a blog written by Terri Forehand, whose many years as a nurse and teacher bring depth to her writing!
Click here to visit Terri’s blog!