Published on: 11 July 2023.
Exercising as a parent can be nigh on impossible – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here, Vitality Magazine explores some inventive ways to get active, including insight from Vitality Ambassador Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill. Though we can’t promise they’ll go uninterrupted!
When little ones arrive, priorities inevitably shift. The daily run is the one to school and back, and evenings once reserved for downtime are taken up by bedtime battles.
And because of this switch, it’s likely that some of life’s simple pleasures that were once a mainstay have fallen by the wayside.
Findings show that, statistically, parents are more likely to fall into unhealthy lifestyle habits when they have children. This is due to the fact there are less opportunities for physical activity, less sleep, combined with an increase in unhealthy eating habits and timings.
But finding small moments in time for exercise are incredibly beneficial, not just for you, but for your children as well.
“For me, exercise is so key to me feeling fresh and energised to looking after my children,” says Alex Danson-Bennet, double Olympic medallist and Vitality Champion.
“When I make even a little time for myself it definitely makes me a more present and gives me the energy to run around with them as well.”
Alex, who is expecting her third child, also says she enjoys her children seeing her be active. “The more fun we have the more excited they are to join in.”
So, if you’re struggling to get your exercise fix, or want to try and adopt more into your weekly routine, here are some to suit every family.
Finding precious moments to yourself can be few and far between where children are concerned. But they do exist… it’s just about knowing where to find them.
“For me, it was about finding those tiny moments of time [to exercise],” says Jessica Ennis-Hill, Vitality Ambassador.
“So, when the kids are in the bath or they’re brushing their teeth, I would do some lunges in the bathroom or just have a TheraBand around my legs and do some glute activation exercises.
“Small things like that actually contribute to your exercise.”
Push-up or sit-ups during bath time are a great option, or even dancing to music while you have a clean-up counts towards getting your heart rate up.
Don’t be afraid to get inventive, whatever works for you.
More articles on Vitality Magazine:
- 5 simple dos and don’ts for a healthy summer
- 4 tips to get you into cycling
- How to boost your step count
2. HIIT it
After-work netball games or Saturdays at the golf course are likely to be lost during the summer holidays, as the role of full-time entertainer and taxi driver takes over.
But there are still ways that you can get your heart rate up in a stolen moment or two while the kids are on down time.
Jess says: “Don’t feel that you have to go away and do an hour session […] you can get your heart rate working and get yourself working really hard in a short space of time and feel really great after.
“It’s about reprioritising how you exercise.”
Vitality partner Fiit offers more than 1,000 on-demand classes. From everyday fitness to HIIT, strength and yoga, you’re bound to find a class to suit your needs.
If you have a qualifying plan, and sign up before 31st July 2023 (inclusive), you can take out a Fiit membership for 12 months completely on us. Terms and conditions apply.
Log into Member Zone to generate your Fiit code and get started on your fitness journey today.
3. Bring the buggy
Workouts with buggies are a great way to incorporate exercise with your child from a young age.
If you’ve never heard of the concept, the idea of buggy-a-cise is that you take part in a tailored workout for postnatal mums with a qualified instructor. The classes are often done in groups and are a great place to network and meet other mums, and there are dozens across the UK.
Exercises often include power walking, hill pushing and short jogs, as well as strength and core training.
So, whether you’re six weeks or five years postnatal, the classes are designed to help improve your overall fitness, get your heart rate up and encourage social connections.
4. Check into a gym
You might not think that gyms go hand in hand with children. But Virgin Active, one of Vitality’s gym partners, has a range of options that allows parents to schedule in an unincumbered gym session.
Club V is Virgin Active’s Ofsted-registered childcare facility, where children as young as six weeks will be looked after while parents sweat it out.
Those with older children, meanwhile, can invite their kids along with them. Juniors from 10-year-old can access the gym floor, when accompanied by a parent, and 12-year-olds can take part in certain Adult Group Exercise classes, including Barre and HIIT.
“We know that the summer holidays can be long, and it can be tough to fill all those weeks with activities to keep your children entertained,” Virgin Active’s Head of Family Experience, Donna Collins, tells Vitality.
“We also appreciate that everyone’s interests are different, and we like to think we offer a variety of activities to keep our junior members engaged and active over the holidays.”
As a Vitality member, you could get up to 50% off a membership at Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Centres, selected Virgin Active gyms or PureGym when you take out a qualifying health or life insurance plan.
Children are not eligible for the gym partner discount. A joining fee will apply. Find more details by logging into Member Zone.
5. Run for the whole family
Running is probably one of the simplest forms of exercise; and that makes it a popular option. Around seven million Brits admitted to running at least twice a month between 2020 and 2021.
Its simplicity (without the need for complicated kit) also make it a great option for families. Something that Alex does regularly with her children. “A way I stay active is to do a jog/walk with my little ones in their buggy,” says the mum of two.
“They love the change in speed and my eldest has now got to the stage where she tells me when to start my intervals and regularly tells me to run faster.”
If your children are a little older, a great option is to get them to bike alongside while you run. This is a great bonding activity and gets your children out into nature.
Do what’s right for you
While finding time to do some physical activity is a good thing, it’s important to not put too much pressure on yourself.
“I think you have to acknowledge that you are going to be a completely different person [once you have children],” adds Jess.
“I had to stop comparing myself to the person that I was before I had Reggie [her son] and physically what I could achieve and how I felt from a mental perspective as well.”
Something that Alex echoes: “It is so hard, and it’s so important to be kind to yourself; recognise that the juggle is real, and you are not alone.”
So, there you have it! Hopefully these ideas provide some inspiration to get you moving in a way that works for you, but if you’re looking for some tips on how to keep your little ones active over the summer holidays try this Vitality Magazine article:
This may include an extra ticket for each child at Odeon or Vue* cinemas each month, 40% off a Garmin Kids’ Activity Tracker, a discounted pair of children’s trainers from Runners Need and up to 25% off a child’s bike from Specialized per plan year.