It can be a daunting trying to fit exercise into your day in between fetching and carrying kids, work and life admin. Luckily we’ve found some simple but effective exercises to work out your arms, legs and core muscles without any fancy gym equipment.
Motherhood is hard. It’s wonderful, but hard. You always feel like you’re being tugged in two different directions: wanting to be on hand with a cuddle or a fresh baked biscuit, but also wanting – and needing – time for yourself, in order to refresh your mind.
This can be reading a book that has more than three pages and doesn’t float in the bath or taking 30 minutes to sneak a workout in.
Many of us go to sleep with the same thought ringing in our heads. “Tomorrow will be different, tomorrow I will exercise.” And each time, tomorrow never comes. It could be that we were too exhausted from a day of smiling brightly at strangers and colleagues or that our toddler threw one too many tantrums because we gave her “the wrong shade of pink”.
The good news is: there is light at the end of the tunnel. And, like Hannah Montana; you can have the best of both worlds - be Super Mom and enjoy a happy, adult life as an individual. It just takes a few life hacks and a commitment to self care.
If you take one thing away from this article, let it be this: exercise doesn’t need to be hard
Many of us have a cupboard filled with abandoned exercise balls, yoga-mats and brightly coloured dumbbells. That’s why we’ve made it our mission to try and find a selection of exercises that won’t clutter up your house, or break the bank. These easy exercises require no fancy gym gear and can be done using common household items.
The following at home exercises focus on your arms, legs and core muscles
At home arm workouts
Audrey Hepburn once said that if you ever needed a helping hand, you’d find it at the end of your arm. Which is the inspiration for our first set of exercises. Instead of investing in the aforementioned brightly coloured dumbbells, let’s spend some quality time with baby and use him or her as a weight – we’re sure they’ll love spending time with mum. For added entertainment, you can sing your favourite song or nursery rhyme. Those arms will be toned up in no time!
The only equipment you’ll need for this workout is:
- A soft carpet or mat
- Your baby or a 15 lb. (5kg) bag of flour – in case baby is down for a nap
Lie comfortably on your back. Raise your knees and place your feet firmly on the mat, hip width apart. With baby placed on your tummy, lift her up in the air, ensuring your arms are straight and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
*A word of caution, close your mouth. Although genetically linked, baby dribble is not the way to hydrate.
Another easy to do exercise is to replace the baby, or dumbbells with cans of baked beans for arm lifts.
The only equipment you’ll need for this workout is:
- Two cans of beans or tomatoes (**Aside, the contents of the tins isn’t really important)
- One dining chair
Sit in the centre of the chair and your back straight. Feet together, taking one can in each hand lift up your arms – keeping your shoulders still and straight – so that the cans end up parallel to your ears. Repeat this 15 times and rest. You should do 4 reps of 15.
Image source: BBC Tea Time Toning Challenge
It can be challenging when trying to find the perfect core workout, simply because many of us HATE, loathe, despise and abominate sits-ups and crunches.
Fortunately the Internet (Pinterest especially) is a gold mine.
Bear Crawls are a perfect alternative to the dreaded Ab-Crunch
Image source: Pop Sugar
And they require NO equipment at all!
- Start on all fours, in a crawl position.
- Lift your knees about 2 inches off the ground so that your body weight is only on your hands and feet, no pressure on your knees.
- Take four small steps forward with your hands and feet, then reverse and go four steps back towards your starting position.
- Continue with 4 steps front and 4 steps back, counting one rep each time you return to the starting position.
Are you a career woman? Need an exercise that you can do while you work? No sweat (or in this case, yes – we want to sweat). Here is a great way of strengthening your core while at work!
Office chair roll-ups
- This is a great work out and can be done in between tasks. Make sure you are sitting it up straight, but keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed; bend forward slowly, a vertebrae at a time, until you’re hanging down. With your head between your legs (this is also a great exercise if you’ve just had a call saying your kid has covered the T.V in bum cream) slowly roll up a vertebra at a time until you’re sitting straight in your chair again.
- Repeat this 5-10 times throughout the day!
As a busy woman it’s imperative to fit in a little bit of extra walking where possible. For example when you fetch your kids from school, park around the corner so you have to walk a further to and from your car or if you are grocery shopping on your own, park at the other side of the parking garage. And then, you can always take the stairs.
If you are at work, don’t email a question to a colleague. Get up and walk to their desk. It means that you’ll waste less time waiting for an answer. Of course you can also do a series of squats while talking on the phone, while the other person is talking try and fit in 5-10 squats. Although, if you’ve just started a new job, you might want to hold off on the phone-squats for a bit – you don’t want people to know you’re weird too soon. 😜
Umbrellas are a great alternative to squats
These are great because they focus on the hard to reach inner thigh area!
Start by lying on the ground (make sure you are on a soft carpet or a yoga mat). Lift your head, neck and shoulders to engage your abdominal muscles. Raise your legs straight up into the air, then point your toes and flex all the muscles in your legs, and open them as wide as you can.
Gently bring your legs together, starting at the thigh and moving up to your feet. Focus your attention on the contraction of your inner thigh muscles. Exhale with each contraction – we hope this doesn’t bring back any PTSD from childbirth- (closing the legs) and inhale with each lengthening (opening the legs).
Image source: Paleo Hacks
The great thing about Umbrella’s is they can be done while having fun with baby. This is one of our favourite exercises!
As a working mum, work-life balance isn’t something that simply happens, it’s something that we have to create for ourselves. And even though our children are our number one priority, we need to remember to put ourselves first too. By taking time for ourselves to switch off, unwind and look after our brain, body and belly, we’re better equipped to be there for our children and parent fully.
Self care is very close to our hearts at DNAFit, as it’s a core element for living a long, healthy and happy life. Because of this, our wellness team created a handy measurement guide to check if you’re looking after yourself as well as you could be. Download Mastering the Art of Self Care, to see if you’re a self care champion or in need of an intervention!