With summer giving way to fall, many moms are still rejoicing in the sunshine and flocking to the park. If you have young children at home, or if you work outside the home during the day, it can be difficult to fit in a workout. You can start by getting outside. Just walking is good exercise, and wearing your baby or pushing a stroller adds resistance to increase the demand on your body. If you have a park nearby, load up the kids and the stroller and head out for a workout and some fresh air. Here are three easy tips to turn your walk in the park into a full-body workout:
- Be sure you walk fast enough to get your heart rate up into the target zone in order to maximize cardiovascular benefits and to increase the number of calories burned in the activity. Your maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age. A healthy, non-pregnant woman can shoot for a range of 75-85 perecnt, so a 30-year-old would try to get her heart rate to the 143-161 range. If you are pregnant, keep the heart rate in the sub-maximal range of 60-70 perecnt, or 114-143 beats per minute for a 30-year-old. You can measure heart rate by using a timer, finding your pulse at your neck or wrist and counting the beats in 15 seconds. Then, multiply that number by four.
- Many parks have a circuit of equipment around the track to encourage fitness-seekers to do more than just walk on the trail. Make use of those stations, if available, by adding some exercises along the way. Be sure to walk for at least 10 minutes before stopping though, in order to reap the cardiovascular benefits. Even if you don't have the equipment, you can stop for a set of exercises. Alternate between squats, planks, full or modified push ups, lunges and triceps dips on a park bench. Try to do at least 10 reps of two exercises before moving on to walk another 10-15 minutes. Repeat two or three times to reach total of at least a 30-minute workout. If you are walking with a stroller, lock the wheels and use the stroller to balance for some of the exercises, such as squats, lunges, heel/toe lifts, and leg lifts forward and out to the sides to tone the thighs.
- Take a breather at the end of your walking circuit to stretch your muscles. Be sure to stretch your calf muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, triceps and shoulder rotators to help relieve muscular tension and to reduce soreness after the workout.
Try to make your walking routine 30 minutes or more for maximum benefits.