Making Exercise a Part of your Daily Life

Exercise. We gotta do it, right? Well, yes and no. I don’t really believe in the traditional exercise paradigm — that you have to sweat it out on cardio at the gym 5 times a week. In fact, recent research shows that’s not the best way to get the benefits of exercise! “Interval training” — mostly moving slowly, but sometimes moving very fast — is the best way to train, because this mimics more what we’d do in our daily lives anyway.

With that information, incorporating exercise into your daily life must be a good idea, right? It’s the easiest way to do it and the most natural! Yes, exercise as part of a daily routine is perfect, especially for busy moms. But how do you do it?

1. Chase your children. Hey, if you have kids, you probably already do this. Just do it more often. 🙂 Make a point of chasing them around the house (or outside, if the weather’s nice) as a game. Most kids love this game so they’re happy to play!

2. Go for a walk (indoors if necessary). Push your children in the stroller or have them walk alongside. You’ll mostly move pretty slow. In the winter, head to the mall or another indoor location and walk. We used to do “stroller strolls” when our kids were smaller (not sure I could get away with it anymore!). If your kids won’t cooperate, go with a friend in the evening.

3. Go up and down stairs a lot. Keep certain things just upstairs (like diapers) and certain things just downstairs, and use them as excuses to go up and down stairs more often. If you have to go up to change diapers, you’ll get more exercise. (I did this until my son and daughter were both older and I couldn’t stand to drag them both up every time someone needed changed.) But, you can make a point of making extra trips up with laundry baskets, down to feed animals, up to clean the bathroom, down to do some cooking…and so on.

4. Ride bikes. Do your kids love playing outside? Join them! Get your bike out and ride while they are, or strap them into a seat or trailer and go for a ride together.

5. Play sports. Why not? If your kids are into baseball, play with them. Get the neighbor kids involved too. If that’s not a good option, join a local rec league or, if you work, your company’s team. If all else fails, play one-on-one basketball with your kid or your husband, or toss a frisbee around!

6. Work in the yard. Yard work is hard. Weed the garden, mow the lawn, whatever needs done. You’ll do bending, reaching, heavy lifting, and be getting lots of exercise.

7. Park further away and walk. You know this one…when you go somewhere, don’t try to park right next to the door. Park further back and walk a little further to the entrance.

8. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Assuming you don’t have a stroller! But stairs are good for you…even if you stop 20 times because your 2-year-old found something fascinating.

9. Haul groceries around. Like you have to be told, right? It’s something you have to do. But it counts as exercise because that stuff can be really heavy to carry! Challenge yourself to see how much you can (realistically!) carry, increasing over time.

10. Carry your laundry up and down stairs. Even if you have a laundry chute or a helpful husband, do it yourself. Carry full baskets down to wash and clean baskets up to put away. That’s exercise too!

11. Wear ankle or wrist weights. Want to tone your muscles? Get light weights — 2 or 3 lbs. each — and strap them around your ankles or wrists. They make weights just for this purpose. It adds just a little “extra” to help you tone your body!

12. Carry your kids more often. I know, they’re heavy and they don’t want to be put down as it is. At least if they’re anything like mine sometimes. 🙂 But if you carry them more — either just regular carrying, or baby wearing — you will get extra exercise from the extra weight! (You might not want to try this if your child is over 25 or 30 lbs. and you are pregnant, though.)

13. Do more “on your feet” chores. Promise yourself you won’t sit down too much. It’s easy to say, “Well, the kids are playing nicely, I’ll sneak onto the computer/sit to fold the laundry/read a book” and then you end up sitting much of the time, whether you’re resting, playing with the kids, or doing a small chore. Choose to do chores on your feet instead. You don’t have to sit to fold the laundry. You can stand while you cook. You can mop the floor or clean the bathroom, chores where you pretty much have to stand. I know that I (and a lot of moms) are really, really distracted by the TV, computer, and books during the day, and it’s easy to let a few chores that are only on the “I probably should do that” (instead of the must-do) list slide. But try not to. The more you stand and move around, the more exercise you get!

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