Most stay-at-home moms, homeschooling moms, or homemakers in general are an under-exercised lot. Let’s face it; we fail to take good care of ourselves because we are too busy taking care of everyone else in the family. With that in mind, I’ve developed methods to keep my body moving and stretching throughout my day, without having to take the extra time for a formal exercise program.
Climb the Stairs—Frequently
Throw out those baskets that you keep at the top and bottom of the staircase to put things in to wait for a more convenient time to go up or down. Just go. If you end up going up and down the stairs 35 times in a day, as opposed to 5 times, great. You just stretched your legs and got in a little cardiovascular 30 times more than you would have if you had used those baskets.
Use the Clothesline
Don’t just stand at the washer and throw the clothes into the dryer. Lift that heavy basket of wet clothes and carry it to the backyard. Set it on the ground, not on a cart or chair or over-turned bucket. You want to have to bend over to get the garment out of the basket and then walk to the opposite end of the clothesline and stretch to hang it up. Then you will walk back to the basket and do it again. This routine really gets you to stretch and bend and lift. If it’s the wintertime or you must, for some reason, use the dryer, turn it into an exercise experience. Stretch to reach into the bottom of the washer, pick out one garment, then squat to put it into the dryer. Do one garment at a time to get all the stretching and squatting in that you can.
Squat Whenever Possible
This movement really stretches those thighs and helps you to practice balancing. Don’t bend over to tie a toddler’s shoe, squat. Don’t get down on your knees. Squat to clean up a spill, or to get into a cupboard, or to pick up the toys.
Carry in the Groceries
When you have children that like to help, that’s great. And it’s even greater to train them to be helpers. But don’t rely on them to do all the grunt work. Someday they won’t be around and you will have to do the physical tasks without their help. And don’t back the car up to the door to save you steps. Park in the usual manner and walk the extra steps carrying the bags to the kitchen. When putting the items away, remember to bend, stretch and squat when getting into the cupboards or reaching pantry shelves.
Use Cast Iron Cookware
I quit using my cast iron years ago because I injured my shoulder and could no longer lift the pots full of food off the stove. Not anymore. I welcome the opportunity to lift a little extra and count it as weight training. The same goes with heavy canisters, bags of bulk food (like my bags of wheat or dog food), or piles of plates.
Play on the Floor
When playing games or cards with the children, sit on the floor. While playing, take the opportunity to do some stretching exercises. Also, be conscious of your posture. This is a wonderful time to practice sitting up straight and tall.
Wear a Pedometer
To encourage you to get more miles out of your day, wear this handy little gadget on your belt. Set a goal and you will find yourself out of the chair and walking down the hall much more. If, by the end of the day, you have not reached your goal, put the babies in a stroller and hit the pavement. Walk until the goal is met.
Keep Movement in Mind
No matter what the task for the day—laundry, floors, beds, or gardening—remember to reach, stretch, bend, squat, and walk as much as possible. If you make this a habit, you will find yourself with more energy and more stamina than you had before.