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top tips for mums and dads on exercising at home.

3 minutes

The coronavirus pandemic has mums and dads up and down the country concerned. In addition to the seismic shifts to routines life in lockdown has caused, the bleak newspaper headlines and constant Covid-19 reminders on social media mean that new layers of worry have been added to those that naturally come with being a parent.

While we don’t know what the long or even mid-term impact of Covid-19 will be, in the short-term there are things we can to do to banish the boredom/fears many of us are feeling and foster an improved sense of wellbeing. According to a landmark 2018 study by The Lancet, the world’s oldest and best-known peer-reviewed medical journal, physical exercise and positive mental health go hand in hand. In other words, keep active and you’ll feel a lot better for it.

But how do you exercise at home, especially with a baby or young child? Well, it turns out it’s easier than you might think.

Online exercise classes

If there’s one positive that’s come out of this extremely difficult situation, it’s that people have really pulled together. Visit YouTube and you’ll find lots of free-to-access live exercise classes aimed at children – and their parents. Unlike high-tech HIIT workouts – which, as productive as they are, aren’t really practical for mums and dads who are also attempting to keep one eye on the kids – these have the benefit of being easy to follow and they can be paused too, meaning you can take a break whenever your little one needs you.

The routines we’ve seen include an all-important warm up and warm down – vital whenever you do exercise ¬– and if you wanted you could even do them in your pyjamas (you’d be surprised at how many families do).

You could also get in touch with your local gym or regular exercise instructor, as many are doing online classes as well, via apps such as Zoom and IGTV.

Make use of your garden or balcony if you have one

If it’s ‘me time’ you’re craving, you could try dusting off your old Yoga DVD. Yoga and other forms of gentle exercise are perfect for relieving the aches and pains that invariably come with being a new mum. It can be done in your living room but if you’re familiar with the moves, you could also follow your own routine in the garden (or any outdoor space you might have), while your baby sleeps in the shade in their Moses basket or your older children play games around you. Fresh air at this time is also really important for mental wellbeing.

Think outside the box

If you’re feeling particularly inventive and/or don’t want to rely on technology, then you could fill a backpack with some cans of food and get working on your core with lots of squats and lunges. Make it look fun enough and the kids might even join in. Even walking up and down the stairs counts, and if all else fails, get out the Hoover. You’d be surprised at how many calories you burn getting into all the nooks and crannies, and there’s the added bonus of a spick and span house, too.

Five times a week for 30 minutes

If you can, try and squeeze in some physical activity at least five times a week for 30 minutes (the amount recommended by the NHS). It won’t take away the situation, but it will put you in a better frame of mind to face it. You’ll relieve the aches and pains that come with postpartum recovery, potentially sleep better, and for a little while at least, feel like things are how they used to be.

Please note, the above is simply suggestive and not intended as professional medical advice. For more information around keeping active, including while pregnant, see the NHS website exercise guide page.

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