Those of us with small children know that it can be as difficult to schedule exercise into your day as those daily mani/pedis we all deserve. Funding a gym membership, finding childcare, and fitting in the time can seem impossible. You may feel like the rest of your life is doomed to paunchy pregnancy post C-section tummy (or am I the only one?), but here are a couple of ideas to fit in exercise in some fresh ways.
Before you even get started:
Ditch the all or nothing attitude!
If you’re not going to start your fitness program until you can schedule two hours a day, then you’ll never start. Does anyone with small children have consistent, large blocks of time? If so, those are probably those same unicorn mommies who don’t get stretch marks, wear stilettos in their third trimester, and never experience back sweat (you don’t? Me neither.).
They’re a rare breed.
Anyway, you can fit in exercise in small pockets throughout the day. Anyone who thinks 2 minutes isn’t a long time has never done a plank before.
Small workouts throughout the day can pay off big dividends– consistency over time trumps large sporadic sessions every day of the week (and twice on Sunday). There are several fun ideas for adding in mini-workouts into your day below. Pick one and GO!
Focus on adding small activities into things you already do.
Consider what you do each day that only require part of your body. Here are some examples from my day:
1.Brush your Teeth.
Every day, I brush my teeth (sometimes twice, even!), and that only requires the use of my hands. That means that I can set a timer and do a 2-minute wall sit while I brush my teeth!
2. Make Coffee.
Every morning, I make coffee. I microwave my unsweetened almond milk for two minutes before adding it to my coffee because I like my coffee so hot that it burns off my face. The microwave serves the dual purpose of heating my milk and timing my plank! My plank, in turn, serves the dual purpose of increasing my core strength and reminding me that it’s been a minute since I cleaned my floors.
Side note: I have a lot going on in the, um, boobal area. Because of weight issues and not getting a properly fitted bra until I was in my 20’s, I’ve had back pain since high school. I noticed a significant decrease in my back pain once I started doing planks each morning. Even if I’m not currently skinny, a reduction in pain is definitely worth the price of two minutes in my morning!
3. Use the
I usually go to the bathroom during the day (it’s been known to happen more than once, actually), so for a while I instituted a rule to do 10 burpees as entrance fee for the bathroom.
I ran into some problems concerning the length of time it takes to do ten burpees compared to the length of time I’m able to hold my bladder… So I had to turn it into a 10-burpee exit fee. My kids think it’s hilarious to watch me do burpees.
5-8. Watch TV.
I will occasionally watch an episode of something as my husband and I are winding down for the evening. There are a hundred different things you can do while you watch TV. I take TV-watching pretty seriously, and I’ve considered all the different factors to exercising while watching TV, and I believe I have the best strategy for implementing exercise into your TV-watching regime.
5. Arm Circles:
If I’m watching a movie on DVD or Netflix (no commercials), then it’s important to do an exercise where your head won’t be bobbing up and down- it takes away from the experience, and you need to do something where your face stays consistently pointed to the screen (yes, I know how ridiculous this sounds, but seriously- it’s science). Therefore, arm circles (big arm circles forwards, big arm circles backwards, small arm circles forwards, small arm circles backwards) are a perfect exercise for that! Set an interval timer and go to it!
SIDE NOTE: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but if you brush your teeth, make coffee, and watch TV in a single day, that’s your lower body, middle body (some people call it the core), and upper body that you’ve worked; you’ve officially helped strengthen your entire body just doing those things you already do anyway!
6. Boat Pose-
Boat pose is also perfect for watching movies and commercial-less television. To do boat pose, just sit on the floor with your knees bent (you should be able to give your knees a hug if you wanted to or if they’re feeling lonely). Wrap your hands around the backs of your thighs (so your hands are sort of in your knee-pits, if that makes sense). Rock back a little, rolling your tailbone under, and lift your toes off the floor. Your torso and thighs should be in the shape of a V; be sure to keep your back and neck as straight as you can (don’t strain those because you need them). Your shins/calves should be parallel to the floor.
Then just watch your show! Hold that pose as long as you can (a stopwatch is good if you want to write down how long you held it because then you can see your progress).
When you’re ready to challenge yourself a little more, extend your legs out so that they’re straight, so now your whole body should be in a V-shape. When you’re ready for another level up, extend your arms out to your sides. Boat Pose is great for the core and back, so have fun watching TV and getting fit!
SIDE NOTE: My husband and I did work into our budget a membership at the YMCA. I’m so thankful for it because they have childwatch. While I’m there, I frequently will use my phone to watch a movie while I run, do intervals, or walk at a high incline. I hope that one day I can get a treadmill into my home, but we just don’t have the space or money right now. There are some treadmills where you can log in to an account (like Netflix or Hulu) so you can stream while you watch. That would be an easy way to fit in cardio for me!
If you’re watching TV with commercials, then I like to alternate exercises during commercials. Most commercials are between 20-30 seconds, so it’s a great interval timer!
7. Commercial Intervals of Squats and Push-ups:
For one commercial, I’ll do push-ups (modified with a mat under my knees if I need it), then I’ll do squats for the next commercial. After a while, the squats weren’t hard enough, so I’d do pulse squats, and those did me in!
For a pulse squat, get in your set stance and squat down, weight in the heels, knees tracking over the toes, thighs parallel to the floor. Then pulse up and down by three or four inches (instead of going back to standing, the way you would with a full squat). Make sure you stay low; your thighs should always return to being parallel to the floor again.
8. Commercial Intervals of Sit-ups and Leg Lifts:
Another great interval would be to alternate doing sit-ups and leg lifts to work the upper and lower abs. You can get in a total ab workout this way, and feel better about the amount of television you watch! It’s also a great idea to alternate burpees and planks during commercials, too!
9. Cooking Push-ups:
Occasionally, I cook… sometimes. That’s not true. I’m a SAHM (stay at home mom), so I cook about twice a day. (I don’t cook breakfast.) I’ll do push-ups off my counter while I wait for the oil in my pan to heat up. I don’t actually get on my counter. But I’ll stand and lean against my counter, and I’ll do push-ups at an incline. Because these are easier than push-ups on the ground, I’ll really pay attention to my triceps here, putting my hands under my shoulders and making sure my elbows brush past my ribs. I don’t have great triceps. These are hard for me. I can also walk around while I’ve got things cooking. I don’t have a step-counter… but I’m thinking about it.
10. Butt Clenches… what’s that?
I’ve even done butt clenches while sitting in my chair watching TV (What? No I haven’t. That’d be weird).
What are some fun ways to work exercise into your day? Let me know in the comments!
Be sure to read the next article: Working Kids Into Your Workout for more ideas on incorporating fitness into your home!