How to fit exercise in when the kids are at school

Now that we are well and truly back into the swing of the school year, a whole new group of parents are finding themselves with a little more child-free time than before. I personally remember being extremely excited about the prospect of my new-found freedom, but the reality is that by the time we’ve worked, cleaned, shopped, washed, walked the dog and maybe even found time for some lunch and a cuppa, those hours between school runs are gone. Here a few tips for fitting some exercise into those busy six hours.

Walk or cycle to school

If there are decent pavements, cycle paths or footpaths between your house and school opt for walking or cycling to and from school. Not only does this help you build some activity into your day, but it gets your children active as well. Research has also shown that getting a dose of Vitamin D (which we get from sunlight) early in the morning has gives our brains a boost, meaning this will help your children learn at school and you with any work you have to do that day.

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Exercise straight from drop-off

Plan to do your exercise as soon as you’ve dropped the kids off. You could meet another mum at school and run together if you prefer company when running. You could take the dog for a walk, or you could go straight to the gym for a workout or class. You could also go for a swim. If you are in your kit and get your exercise done as soon as the kids have been dropped off, you will have your exercise done before you get immersed in the many tasks you have to get done before picking your little cherubs back up. You will have also taken a little time out just for you, which is as important for your mental health as your physical wellbeing.

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Add in extra steps where possible

Think about little ways you can increase your step count throughout the day. These might include walking to the toilet furthest from your desk (whether you work in an office or at home and you have more than one toilet). When parking the car you could look for the furthest, rather than the closest, space from your destination. Not only will this help you increase your daily activity level, but it will make it easier to find your car as well. Adding a few steps here and there really helps increase your daily activity level.

Buy some home exercise equipment

This won’t work if you know you tend to be a bit faddy, but if not then buying some exercise equipment can help get some activity into your day. You don’t need to spend a lot to buy enough to help you do a productive workout, to be honest you can do a very decent workout without any equipment at all. At the cheaper end of the spectrum I recommend kettlebells and a yoga mat, mid-range I think suspension training systems are brilliant, and at the higher end of the spectrum a set of free weights or a decent cardio machine such as a rower, spin bike or treadmill are good investments. Having your own kit at home means you can do a workout without having to go anywhere, which can make it far easier to fit some exercise into your day.

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Walk and talk

If you are meeting friends for a child-free catch-up, instead of meeting for lunch or in a cafe, plan to go for a walk together instead. That way you still get to chat, and you get to be active at the same time.

 

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Get (or borrow) a dog

Having to take a dog for a walk means you will get some activity in every day. I aim to take my dog for three 20-minute walks each day. This means that at least once during the school day I go for a short walk. This forces me to take a much-needed screen break, but also builds a few extra steps into my day, gets me out in the fresh air, and obviously keeps the dog happy too. If you don’t have a dog you could just plan to walk for 20 minutes as part of your lunch break. Not only will this help increase your daily level of activity, but that dose of Vitamin D will boost your brain’s productivity as well (as mentioned above).

 

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Have you got any top tips for getting moving during school hours? Let me know and keep me posted on your progress. You can find me at @hilton_health on Instagram via my Facebook page ‘Hilton Health’ or on Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Laura Hilton