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Parenting Doesn’t Burn Many Calories

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Parenting Doesn't Burn Many CaloriesI have a 2 yr. old, and before she started walking, I used to carry her all over the house, up and down the stairs. I remember having her with me while I attended to my chores like vacuuming . It definitely felt like a workout to me, and despite putting a stop to my regular gym visits, my muscle definition didn’t suffer during that time (we won’t speak about the rest of my body :) ). Well, a study done by Dr. Kelli O’Neill says to not count on the workout of chasing your kids to help you lose weight or get in shape. Most moms, the study found, overestimate how many calories they actually burn playing with their kids if they don’t put in an actual formal workout.

The study isn’t exhaustive by any means, with only 58 moms with kids under 6 were included in the study. Of those 58, only a third of the moms ended up receiving the recommended 30 mins a day of physical exertion, though most actually exerted one hour’s worth of activity. The level of activity was monitored by an electronic device they wore for a week. Afterward, the moms also filled out a questionnaire.

Of the moms who were getting the recommended 30 min. daily moderate/intense workout, some were actually making time for working out in the form of sports and other formal exercise. Many moms were surprised that they were way off in their estimate, especially after considering how tired they felt at the end of the day.

Guideline for Physical Activity

The federal recommendation for adults is 2 hrs. and 30 mins. of moderate aerobic activity a week with at least 1/2 of that time spent performing intense aerobic activity. To break it down, you need at least 30 mins of moderate-intense activity, or 15 mins of intense activity 5 times a week.

How Does a Mom Find Time to Workout?

  • You can go to the usual gym, and leave your kids in the kids’ station, but I know many moms will find all that driving to be a chore. There are also moms who don’t find leaving their kids with strangers appealing, and still many gyms who don’t offer childcare.
  • Next option is to work out at home, but one’s house often has so many distractions in the form of the couch, your kids, even your husband and it’s easy to end up in front of the TV watching your favorite show other than that fitness DVD.
  • Consider stroller stride. There are formal stroller stride classes out there, but you can easily set one up with your neighbor, friend, members of your Moms Group.
    • The basics: you work out pushing your baby with other moms or even dads, and all you need is a pair of walking/running shoes and the one piece of equipment you probably already have: your baby’s stroller.

    Some mothers opt to buy a special jogging stroller if you’re planning to go on terrain other than the sidewalk. But if you’re planning to simply walk and not run, a regular, well-built stroller should be fine.

  • Get a bike trailer and attach it to your bike. Take a ride around the neighborhood with the added resistance of your kids’ weight.
  • Go to workouts that encourage and welcome baby involvement. There’s a Yoga Mama teacher in my own Moms Group, which welcomes babies. Just Google your neighborhood and see what comes up.

Be creative, be persistent. If you can’t do any of the above, make the time with your baby count! One of my favorite ways of getting a workout in was to put together a playlist on YouTube of my favorite songs and music videos and dance in the computer room with my daughter. It instilled a love of music and dancing in her, and it sure worked up a sweat for me.


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