At a recent lunch with the girls the subject came up of our collective fitness. I like to try and keep in shape as much as I can but we could all do with being a little fitter. After all I am a sucker for Hobnobs!
Some of the girls talked about how motherhood is a significant calorie burner, especially as your little one gets a bit heavier and the daily lifting in and out of cots, buggies, high chairs etc. starts to be felt that bit more in your arm muscles! Certainly I know that my niece has sadly reached a stage (and weight) where I can’t just hoist her up into my arms for a cuddle anymore. But what about when they’re older still and can largely fend for themselves, without the need for mummy or daddy to hoist them about and carry them?
Once the late night wake up calls and early mornings have given way to a more regular sleeping pattern and their day to day dependence upon you as a parent has waned, that’s when you’ll begin to notice your fitness levels begin to drop. And that’s exactly why you might want to start thinking about new ways to stay in shape, involving your family.
This is just about as easy as it gets. OK so you’re not going to get fit enough to tackle a marathon, or be building killer abs, but regular walks in the fresh air with your family will keep you nicely active and should be enough to stave off an expanding belly. Getting out and about isn’t just good for your physical health however, and simply getting some regular time out in the open with your loved ones can do you the world of good mentally too. Walking lifts your mood and helps to combat the effects of depression so it is one of the easiest ways to improve your wellbeing across the board.
Perhaps you’re lucky enough to have your own pool (and I’ve been badgering my other half about this for years!) but for most of us going swimming means heading down to the gym or the local leisure centre. Obviously if you’re going with your family the leisure centre is probably a more sensible bet, and you’ll often find there are special rates for families so be sure to enquire about this. Depending on the age of your children you may enjoy a specially scheduled family swim session, which most leisure centres will offer at various times during the week. But if they’re a little older then any general swimming session should do the trick and splashing about in a pool is always good fun, as well as being a great all over workout for your body.
This combines all the benefits of walking, with an added element of fun, and the ability to get that much further from home, if you so wish. A lovely cycle ride through the country on a fresh Spring day is hard to beat and kids of all ages love a bike. Obviously if you’ve not already got a family’s worth of bicycles there is going to be an investment involved here but if you’re in work it’s well worth enquiring about the government backed Cycle2work scheme which offers significant discounts on purchasing a new bike with the payments spread out over time and collected directly from your salary. You might find your employer is already enrolled in the scheme, and if not, get badgering!
If you’re a city family then you may wish to head out to the country with your bikes, perhaps with a cycle rack for the car, or simply by popping on the train. As long as you’re not heading out during peak hours you should find there’s adequate space for a handful of bikes on a train heading out the wilderness, but it’s always worth checking with the railway company first to ensure there’s a service that can accommodate you and your wheels.
Any and all of the above activities can be combined with charity fundraising events which take place all across the country all year round. If there’s a cause you feel strongly about or you just think you’d enjoy taking part in a big group, then take a look at some of the many charity events taking place in your area. Whether you fancy a bikeathon, a sponsored walk or being part of a swimming challenge, the options open to you are almost limitless, and sending your little angels out to pester people for sponsorship is something they will inevitably enjoy!
Knowing that you’re doing your bit for a good cause adds an extra level of satisfaction to your activity. You’re helping others, you’re spending time with your family and you’re getting fit. It really is the holy trinity of happy and I’d recommend it to anyone!