Movement has slowed down for many of us during the pandemic. Places are shut down, people may be working from home, kids aren’t in school, and we are generally not moving about as much as we used to. We know that movement is beneficial to both our physical and mental wellbeing, and can help kids learn better. How can we add more of it to our daily lives in a realistic and stress-free way?
Take it slow! You don’t need to jump right into an intense workout routine! One of the simplest ways to get a little more motion is to add some “shakes and jiggles” to your daily activities. First, think of routines or activities you do most days and then add a little movement, (and all of these activities are good for kids, too). Here’s how:
In the Shower
This is a perfect opportunity to get some stretches in! No need to be fancy or elaborate here, we aren’t talking about an intricate yoga pose (probably not a great idea in a slippery shower anyway).
- Stretch your neck- While standing, place your hands on the back of your head and pull your elbows back (hold for 10 seconds) then carefully bring your chin to your chest.
- Stretch your back- Place your hands on the wall opposite the shower head and walk your feet back until your arms are straight. Push your hips back and press your chest towards the floor. Hold for 1 minute.
Click here for more shower friendly stretches!
In the Kitchen
While you wait for water to boil, coffee to brew, or food to cook, take advantage of the time to move your body!
- Calf raises: lift your heels off the ground and back down again. This movement takes up no space at all and can be done anytime!
- Squats: kitchen counters are great for keeping your balance when doing squats. If you want to add a little challenge grab some soup cans or water bottles for weight!
- Countertop Pushups: another great way to utilize your counters! Fit some pushups in while you wait for food to cook.
- Wall sits: Place your back against a wall (or fridge) and scoot your body down until you are sitting in an invisible chair with your knees at a 90 degree angle. Hold it!
Talking on the phone
Use this time to walk around your home! This may mean pacing up and down your hallway or, taking a nice stroll around your neighborhood! It can be surprising how talking to someone can distract us into healthy movement!
Try using a standing desk or counter top to work on. If these things aren’t accessible you can create your own standing work space! With a standing desk, you may find yourself moving around more, perhaps walking down the hall to talk with a coworker instead of sending an email. Check out these creative DIY options.
Put some music on and recognize household tasks for the workout they provide! Be mindful of the muscle groups you are using and your posture while cleaning your home. For example:
- Vacuuming/Mopping– Do a full lunge when you reach your vacuum or mop out. You’ll be working your lower body and abdominals!
- Picking up Toys– Instead of bending over, try squatting to pick things up off the floor.
- Scrubbing Counters– Crank up the intensity and do some fast arm circles to feel the burn! Stand on your tippy toes for an added calf workout.
Commercials are a perfect time to incorporate some movement into your daily routine. You can utilize your couch as a stabilizer for squats and dips! But if you are binge watching Netflix and don’t have commercials to naturally break up your sitting, here is what you can do:
- Don’t skip the title sequence– Instead, use this time to walk around, stretch or do your favorite exercise, (there might even be a catchy tune playing to motivate you!)
- Make it a Game- Choose a few different things to look for in the show and make it a workout game. For example, when characters eat, do some crunches, when they cry, do jumping jacks and when they drive a car, do some do some lunges! Get creative and adjust the intensity to your liking!
Another great way to get some movement into your day is to schedule small movement breaks. This is a great way to avoid some of the negative effects of sitting for long periods. These are just short periods of time each hour-about 10 minutes-when you get up and walk around. Here are some good ways to remind yourself to take these breaks:
- Set alarms- If you know that you will be sitting for long stretches of time, set yourself an hourly alarm or reminder to stand up, walk around, and do some stretching. A lot of trackers, like FitBit, have built-in hourly notifications that you can activate.
- Work Break Apps– Download one of these free apps designed to motivate and remind you to take movement breaks!
Whether you are setting alarms to stand up every hour, or doing a wall sit against your fridge, you are taking positive steps towards breaking up the sedentary lifestyle that so many of us have fallen victim to during the pandemic. Start small, get creative and have fun!
Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2021
Image: © Viacheslav Iacobchuk | Dreamstime.com