That thing called parenting? Joyful and wonderful? Yes. Lots of free time and rest and relaxation? No. It is a 24-hour job and we’d be lucky if we accomplished everything we’d planned for the day. Forget about “me” time. There’s just no time to even contemplate it, leave alone actually make it happen. Bosom buddies seem like a thing of the past and a regular routine seems like another life. I remember those days when I’d be lucky if I had a shower three days in a row and ate my meals at the table.
I’d feel envious listening to at all those parents who talked about a morning walk – the only walking I did in the morning was inside the house. The only exercise I got was housework. But that’s not enough, even if it counts. And because of the irregular routine, it became more imperative to somehow find an easy way to get exercise that helped me stay healthy.
I tried getting yoga DVDs, fantasizing about doing it when my son was at playschool – but didn’t have the discipline. Oh I felt great watching it – but that is not the same as doing it, right? I decided to buddy up with another Mom in my neighbourhood and we enjoyed walking together – exactly three days before Life interrupted and refused to let go.
Truth is, if we want to be fit and healthy, we need discipline and consistent effort. Besides fitness, it makes us feel energetic and enjoy life more.
As I discovered, it needn’t even take a lot of time. The trick is to split it up into smaller pockets of activity rather than trying hard to take an hour off. Extracting 10 minutes is not so hard, right?
Here are some super-easy, yet effective body weight workout ideas for busy parents. Pick one or more. Best part is, no gym or equipment required, except perhaps good walking shoes and a chair – both of which should be available anyway. Also, the names of these workouts make you feel good. I mean, when someone asks me what I do for a workout I definitely like to say squats and crunches!
Let me start with my favorite.
Soon after my son started playschool, I got a part-time job and used two ten-minute slots to do this: chair squats. I confess I felt a bit lazy initially, but with exercise, the more you do, the easier it gets. And we all know chairs can be used for more than sitting!
So grab a chair and do the following:
- Stand in front of the chair, facing away from it as though you were going to sit, feet 1.5 feet apart.
- Raise your arms over your head
- Lean forward a little with your chest
- Bend your knees, so your butt touches the chair
- Instead of sitting, stand up.
- Repeat this at least 10 times.
Core strength is critical as it affects our posture and all-round health. So make sure you do this one. Here’s how:
- Lie flat on your back and bend your knees
- Place an ankle over the opposite knee.
- Now put your right hand behind your head
- Gently lift your right shoulder in the direction of your left knee and come back.
- Repeat 10 times
- Switch sides and repeat 10 times.
Now, let’s do a resistance workout.
Invest in a Pilates band, it is worth it. Carry it in your bag with you. When you have 10 minutes to spare, do the following:
- Sit on the floor, feet stretched out
- Wrap the band around the soles of your feet, holding the ends
- Pull the end, stretching them towards you.
- Feel the tension
- Repeat 10 times
How about some weights now! Just grab a few cans of food from your pantry and head to your staircase. If you have a step that is about a foot high, that will work too. Here’s what you do:
- Arms at your side, hold the weights.
- Step up on to the step with your right foot followed by your left
- Step down with your left leg, followed by your right.
- Repeat 10 times.
- For a variation, increase your pace to break some sweat.
That’s it. Four super easy exercises to keep you fit!
Other simple ways to practice squats and crunches are:
- Each time you grab a doorknob, do ten squats. Easier said than done, I know, but when you are conscious, it becomes easier. It is a great way to burn calories and strengthen your leg muscles.
- When you have five minutes, squeeze your abdominal muscles in as if you want to get your ribs to touch your stomach. Hold for two seconds and let go slowly. Do about 15.
Get rid of the day’s tension by sitting down comfortably and doing the following:
- Flex your neck to the right and then to the left. Repeat 10 times.
- Flex your neck forward and back ten times
- Roll your shoulders forwards ten times and backwards ten times.
Ways to work out during your daily routine and burn some calories are:
- When you go shopping, walk around the perimeter of the store briskly for ten minutes before you start filling your card.
- Get your music on and dance away for a couple of songs.
- Get a jump rope and have your kids join in for some solid cardio and body toning
Then there’s the classic “take the staircase instead of the elevator!”, jogging, walking the dog and playing with your kids, and parking your car one block away and walking to wherever you’re going.
Remember, if you go to work and have a desk job, you must get up and move around at least every hour. And exercise works best when accompanied by a healthy diet and adequate sleep!
What’s your favorite body weight workout? Don’t have one? Get started now!