Prioritize Physical Activity with These Easy Tips!

Prioritize Physical Activity with These Easy Tips!As mothers, we struggle with prioritizing ourselves.

We know “me time” is so critical to our physical and emotional wellbeing, but when the weight of day-to-day responsibilities feels oppressive, it is even more challenging to carve out time for fitness. If only it were easier. Well, with a little planning, it can be!

Here are a few tips on ways to incorporate physical activity and movement into your day while balancing different ages and stages, as well as seasons:

Infant

  • The stroller is your best friend – outside or inside, mall or grocery store, neighborhood or downtown, making sure you ALWAYS have a stroller with you provides flexibility to go with the flow; when the moment strikes you, pull out the wheels and hit the pavement.
  • Try workout videos that incorporate your child, either directly or indirectly. If indirectly, you can substitute weights for your little one (where safe and appropriate).
  • Mall walking – I know, I know, cliché. However, it is a great option when you live in the Midwest and the weather can be unpredictable.
  • Ask another mom to take turns watching kiddos while each of you exercises. Or workout together with combined kiddos – more hands are better!
  • General calisthenics during playtimes – think jumping jacks, marching in place, burpees (I know, they’re terrible but effective. If you hate these as much as I do, try slowing down the pace.), etc. I guarantee you’ll get your heart rate moving AND might even get a few giggles out of your little one.

Toddler

  • Daily dance parties – don’t discount this idea out of fear of how you’ll look. I promise, your kids do not care. They love getting to be a little goofy with mom or dad (+siblings is even better!).
  • Wii U offers great activity-based programs for younger kids; you’ll squeeze in some easy physical activity without your kids even realizing it.

School-aged

  • By this age, it’s important to start teaching and showing healthy habits. If you haven’t already, start incorporating them into short activities – daily walks, short jogs, playing catch, etc. It’s good for them AND you!
  • Work around their activities. During warm months, check the weather to find nice days. Go dressed and ready for a workout. Once there, get them settled in, watch for a few minutes, then dive into a workout – whatever that means for you: walking around the block, jogging the neighborhood, walking over to Walgreens, and strolling up and down the aisles – it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re moving.
  • Look for family activity-based events. In a community of our size, we’re lucky to have many. Here are a few of my favorites that are very family/stroller-friendly:
  • Park at the back of every parking lot – so easy, but often overlooked. If you do this at every stop, you’ll add in hundreds of extra steps a day without even realizing it.

Beat the Heat!

  • Go early but watch humidity levels. The lower UV index can often trick us into thinking it is cooler when in actuality, the morning hours during the summer can often be the most humid. Continue packing hydration options.
  • Break physical activity into small sessions multiple times a day – 10 mins. x2 or even x3 will add up quickly.
  • Rotate with your spouse and/or ask older children to keep watch for 20-30 minutes.
  • Take family walks at dusk. Temperatures are cooler, the sun is less intense, and you just might need a little fresh air to let the worries of the day roll off you. If near dark, it is not a bad idea to pack a little bug spray.
  • Water! Whether at a splash pad, in your backyard pool or sprinkler, or in a large pool, water activities allow you to cool off and feel able to take on a little more action. Run through the sprinkler with your kiddo, walk around the splash pad (and occasionally jump in!), or tread water or water walk as your kiddos swim.

Work Around the Cold

  • As mentioned before, try mall walks. Walker beware– retail sales during the cold months may be enticing. 😊
  • Outdoors, yes even when cold. Vitamin D does wonders for our mental health during the winter months. Watch the weather forecast to pinpoint peak daily temperatures for outside excursions. I’ve found a quick stroll over my lunch break works best.
  • Not a fan of going outside when the temperatures dip below freezing? No need. Try splitting up activities in your house to make them feel less daunting. For example: 10 mins of movement (stretching, yoga, march in place, a few rounds of stairs) when you wake up, 10 minutes before bed. No equipment is necessary.
  • Stairs in your home? Walk them several times a day and at a slightly faster than normal pace.
Hopefully, you have some new ideas to make physical activity a priority for you and your family!

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Amber grew up Eastern Iowa. Coe College brought her to Cedar Rapids, but her love for the city and community made her stay. She and her husband of 15 years, Shannon, share a home in Marion with their two children (13 year old daughter & 10 year old son). Her passions include outdoor activities in our city’s many parks and trails, exploring unique, locally owned business, as well as all things creative. If you ask her about her bucket list, she’ll share endless travel destinations! Amber spends her days as the Director of Fundraising Marketing, leading a talented team of creatives for nearly 18 years. She is also a devoted advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and other underrepresented causes.

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