If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you know that hitting the gym isn’t as simple as grabbing your gym bag and heading out the door. Sometimes — even after careful planning and spending the extra money for child care — your good intentions of rocking the elliptical gets sidetracked when the intercom announces you’re needed elsewhere.
As many busy people know, the gym isn’t the only place to burn calories. Being a parent means you sometimes have to get creative. Below are ways to feel the burn while your baby or toddler is also actively engaged and having fun.
Babies and toddlers love to stay busy, so why not get active outside? Taking long stroller rides in your neighborhood, wearing your baby on an afternoon walk and chasing after balls at the park can burn calories, and will keep your babies happy with the people they love the most. Dr. Robert Shmerling advises that it’s safe to (even frequently) take young babies outdoors, but parents will need to be sure they are not exposed to anyone harboring a contagious infection. Simply washing your hands and avoiding crowds can make playtime outside an excellent way to burn calories without getting anyone sick.
Looking for some unique ways to play outdoors with your toddler? Digging for treasures, chasing butterflies, popping bubbles and jumping in puddles are all fun ways get your heart rate up while you and your baby bond.
You don’t have to wait for your baby to nap to squeeze in a workout. Dr. Karp, pediatrician and author of “The Happiest Baby On The Block,” asserts that when babies sit still for long periods of time, it’s actually “disorienting and unnatural.” The next time your baby is fussing or crying, Karp advises to stand up and swing your baby in your arms to comfort them.
There are a variety of swinging holds and motions that are safe for rocking a baby to sleep. The simple rocking motion with a 10-pound (or heavier) baby is excellent for toning and strengthening the arms. To incorporate your legs, try squatting while you rock your baby. For advanced rockers, babies love to dance in their parents’ arms as well.
You know the boundless energy toddlers have as they move around the house? Kids aren’t thinking about burning calories, but their curiosity and need for activity make them little calorie burning machines. Furthermore, studies show that allowing your toddlers to move creatively with you can build their self-esteem, muscle development and their fine motor skills. So why not join them?
Embody that energy, and make the same movements for a great cardio workout! This means crab walking, bear clawing, jumping, dancing, leaping and spinning with your toddler in the house or outside. You both will have so much fun, you’ll forget that you got your heart rate up and had all of your muscles in motion.
Planning active play dates with other parents will not only guarantee some exercise, but the activity and time to talk can also help moms avoid postpartum depression. Therefore, plan an active play date like walking around the zoo, taking a nature hike or running around a play gym.