Q: I need to get more active, but how can I when I don’t have anyone to watch my young children while I work out, and I don’t get much exercise when I try to do it with them?
A: With some creativity, it’s possible you can find an activity that you can do with your children that allows you to move at an energizing pace. Try to be open-minded about all the ways you can be active with your children, from dancing to tag and hide-and-seek. If your children are very young, you may find that pushing them in a stroller, biking with them in a trailer, or walking with a baby in a carrier on your back could turn what seems like very modest activity into more exercise than you realize.
Depending on their ages, look up from books or websites some games that make you move more or faster than the children. For some activities, children’s attention spans may not allow a long workout, but that’s ok. You achieve health benefits from physical activity even when you accumulate it in blocks of 10 or 15 minutes at a time. On the other hand, part of the benefit of physical activity is also the wonderful stress relief of letting your mind escape, so time without keeping an eye on the kids can bring extra advantages. If the expense of a babysitter is too much, how about taking turns with another parent, one watching the kids while the other works out? You can also check out fitness or community centers in your area that offer childcare. Remember, by showing your children the importance of taking time to be active, you are setting a powerful example for their health!
Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND
American Institute for Cancer Research
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed over $100 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, http://www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.