Summer Fitness Tips for Grand County’s Mountain Moms |

Summer Fitness Tips for Grand County’s Mountain Moms

Mara Pacyga MS, PTAlpine Physical Therapy & Wellness Center, PC

With summer in full swing, how are you handling your children? Wishing they were younger so you could throw them in a stroller to go for a run? Or wishing they were older so they could bike next to you instead of pulling them like a mule? Our summers are so beautiful (and short), and mountain moms need to be playing outdoors as much as possible.Moms need to exercise for the benefit of themselves as well as their family. We all can make personal gains in cardiovascular fitness, strength, endurance and flexibility, but most importantly, enjoying the outdoors through exercise supports our mental health. Exercise provides stress relief, a better body image, and greater self-esteem, not to mention getting a taste of active pre-children lifestyle.Mothers also set an example for their family when it comes to the importance of daily exercise. The American Heart Association and American College of Sports Medicine recommend adults participate in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five days per week, as well as two sessions of strength training with eight-10 different exercises on non-consecutive days.The Centers for Disease Control report that childhood obesity between the ages of 6-11 has doubled in the past 20 years, while obesity rates between the ages of 12-19 have tripled. Mothers are truly up for a challenge. The challenge is to be creative with exercise and play, integrating physical activity into your life and your family’s life every day. The cardiovascular portion of your fitness program is the most important for heart health and weight loss. Don’t be afraid to allow children to nap during this time to give you a peaceful mental break as well. We have challenging stroller-friendly forest roads in the valley for run/walk intervals. The forest roads also give you access to the single track trails so you can park the stroller and take the children on short hikes. When it comes to biking, make the time to bike to your destination whether it is the park, coffee shop, library, resort or daycare. The housework can wait.Tack on to your ride a few extra miles to make it there, the younger ones won’t know the distance and don’t shy away from the hills. During your daily housework routine, throw in 1-minute intervals of jumping jacks, squat jumps or any plyometrics to get your heart rate up. Lastly, don’t forget to take dance breaks or have exercise class with the kids a few times a week. Strength training is important two to three times per week to help maintain and build muscle strength. The preconceived notion that lifting groceries and babies is enough strength training is faulty reasoning. Mothers most importantly need shoulder girdle, core, and leg strength to prevent spine injuries sustained from a mom’s duties. Attach resistance tubing or bands to the stroller so you can incorporate resistance training when you are taking a hike or a jog.Don’t forget to do triceps dips as you wheely the kids in the stroller. Take hand-held weights with you for resistance training during playtime at the skate park or T-ball practice. Throw progressions of planks, sideplanks, push-ups or Pilates mat exercises into your day for whole-body strengthening.And we can’t forget stretching the area of fitness we intentionally forget. Flexibility is a very important component of fitness to teach to our children for injury prevention. Stretches should be held for a minimum of 15 seconds and repeated three repetitions.Every rest break on the bike path or trail is the perfect opportunity for calf, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps stretches. Create a ritual during the day after dinner, or before bath time for calming stretching or yoga exercises. You can also take this time to practice counting, learn body parts, and practice creative visualization. Lastly, make the time once a week for an exercise event for yourself, whether it is a hike, trail ride, kayak trip, kickboxing, Pilates, or other fitness class. Every mother needs a break, so make it a healthy one.

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