For many parents, warm weather is a great opportunity to pull the stroller out of storage and take the baby for a walk. And if you have just 30 minutes, you can turn that walk into an exercise session both parent and baby will enjoy.
Stroller Strides, a fitness program for parents with kids in strollers, has created a 30-minute workout that can be done just about anywhere in your neighborhood. The intensity of the workout, which is primarily power walking or jogging, with toning added in, can be increased as your fitness level increases. Even if it’s your first time working out after giving birth, these simple exercises can help you on your path back to your pre-baby figure.
"The mommy guilt is such a huge thing that’s hard to overcome. It’s one of the things that keeps mom from working out," says Jackie Dorris, owner of a Stroller Strides chapter on Chicago’s North Side. During the Stroller Strides classes or using the workout that follows, parents can keep baby close while still toning butts and abs.
Stroller workouts can be started as soon as six weeks postpartum and don’t require anything except a sturdy stroller. Dorris recommends using a jogging stroller if you’re going to jog, but only if your child is old enough (check stroller guidelines to be sure of age appropriateness). Dorris says many of her parents exercise using double strollers if they have two little ones. Keep in mind as you’re working out to never hang on the stroller and always make sure the stroller is stable.
If you need the motivation of exercising with a group, Stroller Strides has several local chapters that can help get you and baby wheeling around the park. Joining a class can give you a chance to get out of the house and meet other moms and dads who don’t mind if you have to take a break from working out to change a diaper or calm a fussy baby. For more information or to find a Stroller Strides class near you, visit www.strollerstrides.com.
Warm up (3-5 minutes)
Start with an easy walk, gradually warming up your body and your muscles. The most common mistake when pushing a stroller is hunching forward, so be sure to keep your shoulders back and down throughout your walk.
s Stroller squat (2 minutes)
The squat is one of the best exercises for the lower body. Stand behind your stroller with the brake off, hands about shoulder-width apart on the handlebars. Your feet and knees should face forward with your legs about hips’ width apart. Sit your bottom way back and put your weight on your heels. Push your stroller out in front of you as you squat down and pull it back in as you pull yourself up to a standing position. When squatting back, keep your spine long and strong, with your upper body only slightly tilted forward. A common mistake during this exercise is to bend too much from the upper body, when it should be the lower body that is reaching back.
Stroller walk (3 minutes)
Time for interval training. Walk for 30 seconds as hard and fast as you can, then recover by slowing your pace a little for 30 seconds. Repeat this sequence until your time is up.
s Single arm chest press (2 minutes)
This exercise is best done pushing uphill. A sloped driveway works fine. Start with the stroller just in front of you, with one hand on the handlebar and your arm bent. Use that arm to push the stroller uphill and focus on your chest muscles as you push. Return and repeat about 12 times, then switch arms.
s Lunge walking (2 minutes)
The lunge is one of the most effective exercises to tone and strengthen the lower body. It’s a compound exercise, which means it works a lot of muscles in just one move. A good lunge will effectively work your quadriceps (front of your thighs), hamstrings (back of your thighs) and gluteus maximus (your bottom). This exercise will be part of your walk. Lunge walk by taking really long strides and lowering your upper body down until your front thigh is almost parallel to the ground. Your front knee should not go farther forward than your toes. Lower your body slowly and squeeze your thighs and glutes as you come back up.
Power walk (3 minutes)
Resume your walk using full, powerful strides. Keep your feet and knees facing forward and your body standing tall.
s Stroller row (2 minutes)
Walk back to your driveway or another small hill. This time, face the stroller downhill. Your feet should be set about as wide as your hips, hands about shoulder-width apart on the stroller. Let the stroller roll forward so your arms are extended, then use your upper back muscles to pull the stroller back in to you. Focus on a strong back to pull the stroller in towards your body.
Power walk (3 minutes)
By now you should really be working. Keep your intensity up enough so that you are a little out of breath, but not so much that you can’t sing to your baby.
Stroller side pull (2 minutes)
Have your right side facing the stroller. Standing still, use the right hand to push the stroller away, while reaching overhead with the left arm. Use your abs on the left side to pull the stroller back. Focus on pulling ribs to hips. After about one minute, do the other side.
Stroller reverse curl (2 minutes)
Put your brake on and lay a blanket in front of your stroller. Lay down directly in front of your stroller with your head at the edge of the front wheel (or wheels). Hold on to the wheel behind you. Pick your legs up at a right angle with feet off the ground. Engage abs and draw belly button in to your spine. Contract abs to slightly tilt pelvis in a reverse curl.
Stretch (5 minutes)
Take time to stretch all the body parts worked today. This is a great time to pull your baby out of the stroller and stretch next to her. You’ve now finished a workout composed of strength, cardiovascular and flexibility exercises, and you’ve gotten to do it while spending quality time with your baby.
Workout courtesy of Lisa Druxman, founder of Stroller Strides.