Oh, the irony. Often the hardest time to squeeze in exercise is during your child’s summer vacation—when you’re the babysitter and chauffeur. But there’s good news.
“You can exercise anywhere, using your body weight or resistance bands,” says Chris Slocum, BS, strength and conditioning coach at Memorial Hermann Shepherd Square and trainer at Athlete Training + Health.
And if you feel self-conscious, he says, invite friends and other parents to join.
“All you need is a half hour and you can get your sweat on.”
Here are his top tips on workouts you can fit in at the pool, park, beach or martial arts gym:
Play soccer, softball, baseball or hit the playground.
Run, sprint and build strength. Vary your workout to target different muscles and challenge your body. So if your kid has practice Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, you can run, do intervals of sprints and slower jogging and take advantage of benches and jungle gyms along the track.
“All you need is a good library of different exercises,” Slocum says. You can do squats, walking lunges, push-ups, planks, crunches or high-knee runs. If you’re unable to do full-body movements, you can drop to your knees and do push-ups against trees, picnic tables or sturdy benches. Alternate upper and lower body exercises, for three sets of 10 reps.
You also can wrap a resistance band with handles around a tree or pole to do rows, for your upper back. Stand on the band, at the center to do bicep curls and overhead presses. A small band above your knees makes squats tougher, as does a band at your ankles for side lunges.
The more taut the band, the harder the workout.
Where: Martial Arts Gym
If available, climb the stairs, lift weights or take a Tai Chi class.
Your kids will have uniforms and equipment, and you can bring small dumbbells for yourself.
Walk, jog and do squats. Since sand is an unstable surface, you can target your smaller, stabilizing muscles such as rotator cuffs and ACL (knees) while working your quadriceps (front thighs), hamstrings (back legs) and other large muscles.
Water and sunscreen.
Have swim lessons or do laps.
“Take advantage of what’s around you,” Slocum says. “If you can, do some laps. And if you stand waist-deep you can do high-knee runs or tread water, which is a full-body exercise. You can hammer every part of your body, including your core in 30 or 60 seconds.”
Your swimsuit, sunscreen and water.
If you’re new to strength training, book a session or two with a personal trainer. He or she can help you understand which muscles to target, how to modify exercises and use proper form, Slocum says. “That will help keep you safe from injuries.”