As the weather turns warmer, our kids’ schedules seem to bloom along with spring flowers. If your family is anything like mine, you’re probably spending many an afternoon on the sidelines as baseball, track, soccer and lacrosse seasons kick up. A busy after school schedule can mean that dinners are rushed and on the go. And exercise can be limited to lugging equipment to and fro, along some high impact cheering. Take advantage of the beautiful weather, plus the hour or so you have as a spectator with your kids otherwise engaged in their own sports practice, and get a little exercise on your own.
“Where Are The Missing Cleats?” Warm-up
If your family is at all like mine, it’s a mad scramble to get out of the house for a practice. As much organizing as we may do ahead of time, there’s always one critical piece of equipment missing. In the race to find missing gear, grab water bottles and get to practice on time, you could be doing more exercise than you realize. Between that and unpacking your car, you’re probably warmed up and ready to go. Once you get your child settled, take a brisk walk around the court or field. Mix it up a little—take a lap walking on your heels and then on your toes. If you’re feeling adventurous or need a little more challenge, try some walking lunges to get your heart rate up. Even better, join your kids in their warm up by kicking around a soccer ball or throwing a baseball for a few minutes.
Benches: Not Just for Warming
A crucial piece of exercise equipment is at almost every field or stadium: benches or bleachers. Add some intensity to your workout by stepping up and down one bench or level of the bleachers. Do 30-seconds leading with your right leg and then 30-seconds with your left. Between sets of step-ups, try some triceps dips using the same bench. Sit on the bench with your hands on either side of your body.
Bring your bottom off the edge of the bench, putting your weight on your hands. Bend your elbows to no more than a 90 degree angle so your bottom comes down below the bench, keeping your back close to the bench. Do 10-15 repetitions, or repeat for 30-seconds. Turn around, place your hands on the bench in front of you and do a push up. Really feeling it? Try placing your feet on the bench and your hands on the floor for an incline push up. Challenge yourself to 10-20 pushups!
Use Your Kids’ Equipment: You Paid for It!
The cost of your kids’ sports equipment is not joke! And it is often outgrown so quickly. So get the most out of your investment by using it when they are not. Is their bag of equipment sitting on the sidelines? Stand next to it and jump over it, right to left, for 30 seconds. (Not feeling the jumping? Just step side to side over the equipment.) Have a seat on a bench, or if the ground is dry, try holding a small bag of equipment in front of you as you sit on your bottom, slightly reclining, with feet elevated. Holding the bag, twist side to side for an oblique workout (this is called a Russian Twist). Next, take the bag on the meaty part of the back of your shoulder and do some weighted lunges. Alternate the legs, doing each for 30-seconds, for about 4 minutes. Or take a tour around the field by doing walking lunges.
There are so many great exercises you can do right from the sidelines: no equipment necessary. Jumping jacks, burpees, squats, and ski jumps are a few I like. Pick two and alternate in 30-second intervals. As you get more conditioned, there are tons of things you can do to increase the intensity, like adding a pushup to your burpee or a jump to your squat. You can also change the quantity of the exercises and focus on your child’s time on task: choose to do your exercise repetitions when your child has the ball, or as long as one player is at bat.
Cool Parents Cool Down
Don’t forget to cool down so you are fresh as a daisy (and not picking them in the outfield) and ready to go when your kids are. You might even be able to join into your kids’ stretching! As you’re helping to pack up, don’t forget to take a swig of water. You’re kids won’t be the only ones who need some hydration.
Not A Spectator Sport
We all know that parenting certainly isn’t a spectator sport. And kids’ sports don’t have to be, either. You can get in shape and have fun at the same time as your kids do. Are you new to exercise? Be sure to check in with your doctor before starting a new program. Do you need more motivation? Encourage some other parents on the sidelines to join you. True, your kids are busy with their own activity, but they are still watching you. In addition to getting or staying fit, you’re teaching your children an important life lesson: fitness is a priority at every age.