The other day somebody asked me if I exercise regularly. As I was about to recount a (fake) running injury, I thought, what a ridiculous question. Of course I work out! I may not belong to a gym but, like most parents, my life is filled with opportunities to strengthen, stretch and tone. In fact, most of us complete a daily regimen to rival a marathon. How many of these moves are part of your daily workout?
Pant pulls You may call it depressing — I call it exercise. The benefits of devoting four minutes of panting and heaving to get into a pair of pants that used to fit are legion. Note, though, that this activity may require a spotter in case you get the zipper stuck or need help to stand erect. But once you are up and moving, you’ll reap the rewards of using all your core muscles to keep your stomach in check. Remember to breathe shallowly so your button doesn’t fly off and blind somebody. Doesn’t it feel fantastic?
Supermarket curls Worried a lack of weight training means your bones are turning to chalk? Worry no more. Think free weights…think grocery bags stuffed into the trunk of your car. Open the trunk and, with each hand, grab as many bags as possible to ensure only one trip. You can do it. Pick up all the bags, shut the trunk with your chin, and lurch forward. Shallow breaths, small steps, and you are home. Ring the doorbell with your nose or bang your head against the door for help before dropping the bags.
Memory laps There is physical value in forgetfulness. Use a pedometer when looking for lost objects. Take a deep breath, then exhale, saying, “Now, where the hell did I leave my keys?” To increase the cal-orie burn, make sure you already have your child in the car seat waiting for you. As you run upstairs and down, retracing your steps from laundry room to attic, think of the inches you’re burning off. Up and down, up and down. Finally, you remember: You left the keys with your wallet. Take a deep breath, then exhale, saying, “Now, where the hell did I leave my wallet?” Repeat.
Dishwasher dives The daily routine of stack-bend-replace could give those upper arms the superhero look you’ve been dreaming of. Unlike at most gyms, you’re guaranteed no lineups for this machine…
Baby snatches Take any toddler to a store (preferably one with glassware). While you try to browse, release the child. Let the workout begin: Count the snatch-and-lifts you do while little Toni careers from one side of the aisle to the other. Snatch and lift, snatch and lift. After 30 minutes, look in the mirror. Be proud of the sweat pouring off your red face!
Snow falls Snow on the ground is no reason to abandon your workout. Try the “triple sow-cow” — slip on the patch of sidewalk your son had promised to shovel. Use every muscle in your body as you twist and spiral to avoid falling into an embarrassing heap. Oh, look: The Russian judge gave you 4.2! Fabulous! Take a bow and wave to the neighbours you just know are watching.
Running late There is nothing better for the burn than waking up late and having to be somewhere, like daycare, Danny’s hockey practice or a parent-teacher interview, in 20 minutes. Check the watch, embrace the panic, then run — run like you’ve never run before. Keep focused, gulp for air and pump those legs; you just might get there on time. You will know your workout was successful by the size of the sweat stains under your arms and how far your tongue is hanging out of your mouth.
Our lives are made up of active verbs. When aren’t we running, grabbing, jumping, twisting, pulling or bending? Maybe these exercises don’t come with a membership, a guarantee to lose inches or the requirement that you shower naked with strangers, but they count for something. So next time you drag yourself off to bed at the end of the day, don’t feel guilty that you didn’t do a spin class. Just catalogue your daily grinds. Then breathe deeply, raise your arm above your head and pat yourself firmly on the back. Repeat.
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