8 easy ways for busy mums to keep fit
With four kids under six years I often felt like I didn’t have the energy or inclination to lift a finger, let alone exercise. My second child survived on minimal sleep so I was forced to do the same. Although I was diagnosed with post-natal depression, I knew that what I was really suffering from was post-natal exhaustion. I was not keen on taking ‘tablets’ so threw myself into a fitness regime. Being physically fit could also help my mental health.
Over the years these simple exercises have developed into sustainable, achievable and affordable exercise routines that I continue to practice daily. In addition, these workouts leave a light footprint on our planet…
Walk (It) Out
Babies love the distraction and attention of new faces. Whenever my partner returned from work or, when a grandparent or neighbour popped in, the kids would squeal with delight. I would seize these ‘moments’ – when visitors entered, I’d exit (after they agreed to babysit of course!) I would complete a brisk walk around the block before the kids even realised I had ‘escaped’. These 10-15 minute ‘recharge routines’ gave me a few moments to breathe, gain strength and provide some clarity. Sunshine on my face usually helped to lift the fog.
These few minutes a day can easily be used to regain fitness. Explore opportunities to increase training intensity and set yourself little challenges – for example, jogging to one light pole… walking to the next, jogging between two light poles, walking between two light poles.
How many hours do you spend daily preparing meals in the kitchen? How many cups of tea or coffee do you have a day? If you add it all up, your time spent waiting for the kettle to boil could end up being a whole workout. Try doing a set of squats or lunges, practice push ups on the kitchen bench or use the time for a 3 minute pelvic floor routine.
Playgrounds are the best gymnasiums on the planet. They can be found everywhere, are open 24 hours and membership is free. Basic functional exercises are the best… step ups, push ups, pull ups and of course, monkey bars! Dress for action. Instead of sitting on a park bench watching your kids and snacking on treats, play chasey with them up and down the slides. Keep up with your kids and be a great role model.
Cleaning is one of those everyday chores that can be turned into a fun, challenging exercise routine by using this easy visualisation technique.
Imagine that someone you want to impress is arriving at your home in 45 minutes. Write out your ‘to do’ list, turn up the music, set a timer and go! If you have stairs, every time you use them walk up and down them twice. Try skipping between each task (no rope required). Dance while you are dusting. Work up a sweat!
Bath Time Fitness
You cannot take your eyes of children when water is involved and bath times can take anywhere between 5 and 50 minutes! My babies loved the water… bath time was their workout!
Before you start exercising in the bathroom ALWAYS ensure there are non-slip mats on the floor and do not take your eyes off the children for a second. Routines can include, knee raises, quad wall holds and ballet pliés. The edge of the bathtub is great for planking and tricep dips!
Yummy Mummy Fitness
Instead of paying for a gym membership, start your own fitness group with friends.
Commit to paying a nominated sum into a designated bank account each week and arrange to meet at a set time and place for your weekly workout. If you are a new mum this could simply involve walking around your local park with bubs in the pram. Pack healthy picnic lunches and discover your neighbourhood. Organise visits to the zoo, aquarium, gallery or local museum – any outing that involves movement!
If (only) four friends commit to paying $20 a week each, for 52 weeks, there would be a $4,160 slush fund to spend at the end each year. This money could be spent on investing in a personal trainer for additional motivation and technical guidance, pampering sessions (nothing like a massage or facial to boost your self esteem and lift your mood) or going on a weekend health retreat!
I don’t know whether it’s my love of being outdoors, the cost of feeding a family of six, the lack of transparency about the chemicals in our foods, the satisfaction of growing and harvesting seasonal produce (or all of the above), but I simply cannot get enough of gardening!
Fit bodies need fit food and there is nothing better than home-grown produce.
Like people, gardens need constant attention. Dedicate just 30 minutes every other day of digging, weeding, sweeping and get growing! Gardening tasks are many and varied using many muscle groups. Stretching before and after each gardening session will free you from many aches and pains.
Sleep & Meditation Fitness
Being a mum is a tough gig… lack of sleep can have a detrimental effect on your health and your ability to remain fit! It’s important to grab power naps whenever possible and learn to practice meditation.
The other kind of tablets I like to avoid are the computer variety, particularly in the evening. We (can) waste so much time looking at screens. Calm yourself for bed by switching off electronic gadgets at least ½ hour before bed. A great sleep will give you the energy to work the exercise routines listed above!