Working out benefits your body both mentally and physically. However, when you’re a parent to young kids or even a baby, it’s close to impossible to find the time to exercise. We talked with Ollie Campbell (www.priority6.co.uk), personal trainer and body transformation specialist about working out as a busy mum.
How do you optimise a workout with young children?
As always, the problem with working out as a parent is finding the time to exercise, especially with a young one to worry about. “The most important consideration here is choosing how you use the time effectively,” Ollie explains. “Workouts don’t have to be time-intensive, you can see results doing as little as 10 minutes of exercise every day.”
Make sure you pick the exercises for that time carefully. “Choose activities that are going to get the heart rate up to release endorphins, otherwise known as ‘the feel-good factor’. These are invaluable if you’re feeling stressed,” says Ollie.
Don’t worry about equipment, though. If you find the chance, you should take it. “Don’t spend the time you have getting lots of weights ready because the chances are, by the time you’ve done that, you may have missed the only slot to workout that you’ll get all day!”. Alternatively, choose workouts that use your body weight. For example, squats, press ups, crunches, lunges, burpees and shoulder taps. “Commit to do doing as many rounds as you can, as quickly as you can. Aim for 20 of each, then 18, then 16 and so on until you’re down to two.” Ollie also advises to keep your rest periods short and make the most of the time you have.
What workouts can be done with children safely?
For babies, you have the option of being their entertainment. “Doing squats in front of the baby if they are laying on the floor can entertain them and even make them laugh,” says Ollie. “If you use a baby sling, try doing some lunges with the baby strapped and secured safely. You could also try doing press ups, giving baby a kiss or blowing raspberries on the downward movement”.
Kids who are slightly older can always get involved, as Ollie explains. ” It’s important to demonstrate good healthy habits. If you have weights at home, set up a circuit of exercises, but while you use home weights, the little ones can use their body weight”. She also has advice if your youngster doesn’t want to participate. “If they get bored ask them to count. Kids love counting! Give them a set of counters or dice and let them pick the reps for you – be warned though, they usually choose high numbers!”.
What about working out with a hectic schedule?
It’s rare for mums to have spare time, especially if they haven’t started school yet. “The key is to fit in as much as you can when you can. It’s about progress, not perfection. If you get something in, you will feel better than if you skipped it. It may mean getting out of bed 20 or so minutes earlier, but it could set the tone for the rest of the day. If you’re not a morning person, choose to do something at a different time of day. While preparing your evening meal, use the time it’s cooking to do some form of exercise”.
If you’re interested in reading more about mums and fitness, check out our interview with former Olympic athlete and mum of two, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill.