In the same way that human beings thrive and perform their best when we eat foods that we are biologically designed to eat (ie nutrient-dense unprocessed wholefoods), we also increase cardiovascular fitness, muscle mass and fat loss when we move in the same way that our ancestors moved. And our ancestors moved in their daily life by walking, squatting, climbing, lifting heavy things, chopping and also sprinting in short intense bursts when hunting down a wild animal to kill or running for their life from a sabre-toothed tiger. They didn't run for miles and miles and hours and hours on end at the same steady pace - they would have had no need to!! This is why numerous studies have shown that long distance running (eg marathon running, endurance events, and all other conventional aerobic training) does more harm than good in the long term on all measures (esp increasing cortisol and risk of cardiovascular disease) whereas cross-training or interval training - which mimics the short bursts of intense exertions of our ancestors- improves cardiovascular fitness, muscle strength and stimulates fat loss because - like nutrient-dense foods- our genes are geared for this type of activity. So with this in mind a friend and I have started to do some sprint training at Bronte beach and park 2-3 times a week. We sprint as fast as we can for a minute then walk back to the start to get our heart rates back to resting then do it again about 8 times. It only takes 20-30 minutes, then its all done. What a time saver! What a relief that I dont have to run for an hour at a time at a constant drone like a mouse on a treadmill to make a positive impact! Exercising with others makes it more fun and motivating so if you want to join me, meet us at Bronte beach 9am-ish (after school drop off) Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Its great to breathe in ocean air while exercising and we finish off with some sit ups, push ups, yoga and a swim on hot days. Sounds pretty awesome and it is! And did I mention that it's free and fun!!!
For mothers with kids in tow I know exercising can be tricky. When my kids were babies and napped more than once a day I used to walk the baby in the pram for one of their day naps so I could connect with the local community as well as getting some exercise. I also walked the kids to school (45 minutes each way) a couple times a week (one on foot or scooter, the other in the stroller)- sounds like a long time but it goes fast especially for your 6 year old who would take the opportunity to talk incessantly about Lego without drawing breath ("mum, how did we get to school so fast?!??!"). When the kids were playing at the playground I would try to do some yoga poses or stretches instead of standing or sitting there idle. I didn't care what others thought and most of the time they would probably be thinking "that's a bloody good idea, I should do the same!" When Will did swimming lessons I'd jump in the other side of the pool and tread water or do laps.
When playing with the kids on the floor I'd sit in a simple yoga pose (such as virasana <seen below>, feet folded back near ankles- just like kids naturally sit) . Of an evening I would sometimes put on some dance music and bop around the lounge room like a crazy lunatic taking my kids for piggy back rides around the dining table. I bought a hula hoop last year and occasionally put it to good use while watching the kids play in the garden. This brought never-ending amusement to passersby ("...there's that crazy woman again...."). And my most recent addition is a rebounder (the trampoline substitute for those of us who aren't blessed with huge back yards....I live in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney- what's a backyard?!!). Hopefully these simple ideas might spark some inspiration to squeeze in a bit of "movement while mothering". And above all else, remember that day to day functional activities (like housework, walking up and down stairs, tidying the house, walking around a shopping centre etc) count for a lot!! Simple daily life can be physcially active when mothering! And if it's not, remind yourself that its not always going to be that way. Your routine and rhythm changes as fast as the kids grow.