By Katie Lange
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
Anyone who has children knows it’s hard to squeeze in “me time” when the kids are around. One of the many daily routines that often falls to the wayside is your workout.
But since exercise is important to your overall health – and a big part of being in the military – it’s really something you should make time for. So instead of stressing over finding time to yourself to exercise, why not include your kids in your regimen?
Video by Air Force Staff Sgt. Da’Nette Bruton
Doing so is not only like play-time for your kids, but it can help develop motor skills in babies, and it’s a great way to bond. It instills a sense of camaraderie and fun in older kids, and you can actually learn a lot about a baby’s personality through it.
We here at the Defense Department have put together a series of exercises that include your children. In this blog, we’ll focus on the lower body.
Exercise 1: Squats
What They Do: Squats strengthen muscles throughout your entire body, and they increase flexibility.
Involving Your Child: You can put them on your shoulders (holding their hands, of course), or on your back like you’re giving them a piggyback.
- Make sure your feet are slightly wider than your hips and that your weight is in your heels.
- Squat down, as if you’re about to sit on a chair parallel to the ground. Send your buttocks back first, and your knees slightly outward.
- Keep your back straight, with a neutral spine and your chest and shoulders up. Don’t round your back.
- If you struggle with balance, look at one spot just in front of you to hold your focus.
- Make sure your knees aren’t going over your ankles – they should be in line with each other. Overextending your knees can actually hurt them.
Exercise 2: Lunges
What They Do: Lunges target muscles in your abdomen, hips and legs. They primarily focus on your gluteal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, thighs, transverse abs and obliques, but they can also work your calves, too. All of these things promote balance. Lunges also significantly contribute to developing hip adductors (inner thighs) and abductors (outer thighs). Working these often-overlooked muscles helps add to hip stability and overall thigh mass, and they’re critical to athletic performance.
Involving Your Child: Hold him or her on your back the same way you did for squats.
- Start with your feet together standing straight.
- Step forward with one leg, bending that knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor.
- DON’T let your knee extend over your toes.
- Return to the starting position.
- Do the same with the other leg.
Exercise 3: Reverse Table-Ups
What They Do: These work your glutes, but they also stretch your core and arm muscles. The pose can build strength in the muscles surrounding the spine, too, and it improves balance and posture.
Involving Your Child: Let your child sit on your lap and hold onto your knees.
- Sit on the floor with your knees bent.
- Put your hands on the floor under your shoulders, with your fingers pointing in front of you.
- Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart.
- Push through your heels and bridge your hips up, squeezing your glutes as you go. Your body should look like a table, with your torso and hips parallel to the floor.
- Hold the pose for two seconds, then lower back down.
Exercise 4: Leg Extensions
What They Do: These work your quadriceps, whether you’re seated or lying down.
Involving Your Child: Have your child grip their hands and legs onto your shins. You can hold their hands, too, if you want.
- Start with your knees bent in a 90-degree position, whether you’re sitting or lying down.
- Put your child on your shins.
- Extend your lower legs until they’re nearly straight, but not quite – you don’t want to lock out your knee, because that can put too much pressure on the joint.
- Extend your lower legs back down to a 90-degree position (don’t go further; that can hurt your knees and joints).
Exercise 5: Calf Raises
What They Do: Your calves provide stability to your ankle and knee joints. They also work to extend your foot and point your toes. Calf extensions build these muscles, which can help you to walk, run and jump. They also help work on your balance.
Involving Your Child: While standing, hug your baby to your chest or put them on your back, like in the lunge and squat exercises.
- Stand straight up, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Rise up on your toes, squeezing the calves at the top, and
- then slowly lower back down.
- Resist making this a bouncy movement. Controlled movements work the muscles more.
- For a greater stretch, stand somewhere where you can drop your heel lower than your toes (like on a stair or ledge). Then drop your heel as low as possible before coming back to a level position.
If you do two sets of 15 reps of each of these exercises, you’ll have given yourself a good workout without having to leave your kids behind.
Stay tuned for our next workout to help keep you in shape!
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