By: Cheryl Maguire
I love fitness classes. There are many benefits to participating in a fitness class as opposed to working out on your own. In general classes are social, more fun and push you to workout harder. If you are enjoying your workouts, you are more likely to want to return and continue exercising.
Research studies have demonstrated exercise is a type of anti-depressant equivalent to therapy or medication for some people. Exercise also improves physical health, can lead to weight loss, and decreases stress.
During exercise classes, such as spin or body pump, the instructor provides cues to help improve your workout. Some of the following instructor work out cues can be applied to parenting your child.
Remember to Breathe
During fitness classes, the instructor will provide several cues to breathe. At this point, you might be wondering, “Do I really need to be reminded to breathe? Shouldn’t that be instinctual?” When you exercise your body requires more oxygen. People might not increase their breathing or breathe too fast to meet your body’s demand for more oxygen. This reminder helps you to become more aware of your breathing and adjust it accordingly.
Dr. Alison McConnell, has conducted various research studies regarding breathing training. She found that if people do not breathe properly during exercise it can lead to increased risk of injury or loss of balance. She provides some breathing exercises to use while working out.
As a parent, you are often either literally chasing after your toddler or running around to your child’s various activities. During these times, it is important to remember to breathe. You can also remind yourself simply to inhale deeply throughout the day which will help to calm you, especially during more stressful times. Dr. Richard Brown, MD and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg research studies found deep-breathing can help with anxiety and stress.
Your body is composed of 60% of water. When you exercise you usually sweat which results in water loss to your body. For this reason, it is important to stay hydrated while working out. If you become dehydrated, you can become sick or even faint. Since an instructor obviously wants to prevent you from becoming dehydrated during classes, you will hear multiple prompts to drink water.
People often don’t drink enough water throughout the day. Both parents and children can also become dehydrated from either being active or exposure to heat. There are many benefits to drinking water such as maintaining the balance of body fluids, controlling calories (sometimes hunger is actually a sign of dehydration), and energizing muscles.
Check Your Form & Posture
It is important to have the correct form and posture during exercise routines. Improper form can lead to injuries or not receiving the maximum results to either increase your muscle strength or endurance. During a class, you are usually focusing on the exercise instead of your form which is why the instructor will cue you to check your form.
In relation to parenting, proper posture and form is also important to preventing injuries. When your child is young, you tend to pick them up often which could be the equivalent or lifting a 20-30 lb. weight. In order to prevent back injuries, you should be aware of your form before lifting. According to Muscle and Fitness Magazine, proper posture is also linked to improved confidence, better breathing, improved circulation and digestion, slimmer/younger appearance, and a healthy spine.
Find the Beat
During a spin class, the instructor will sometimes start counting or tell you to find the beat of the music to help set the pace of your peddle stroke while riding the bike. This will either allow you to improve your endurance or increase your speed, leading to a more effective workout.
In relation to parenting, we often tell our children to, “hurry up.” Instead of having your child catch up to you, try finding their beat or rhythm. A great example of this is during our first family visit to NYC. I was about 10 paces in front of my children without even realizing it. It wasn’t until my daughter called out, “Mom, wait up,” that I saw how far ahead I was. When I slowed down, I was able to both talk with my children and experience NYC through their eyes.
Remember to Cool Down/Stretch
At the end of every fitness class, the instructor always requests that everyone cools down and stretches. The cool down is a way to slow down your pace and heart rate in order to slow the blood flow throughout your body. If you stop abruptly, you can feel dizzy or even faint. Stretching it also important to improve flexibility which will prevent injuries.
As a parent, it is also important to cool down at the end of the day. During this time, you should try to do something relaxing for yourself such as reading a book or magazine. This will help you to decompress and also to fall asleep better. Stretching is another form of relaxation. Yoga combines stretching, breathing, and proper posture. Research has found Yoga decreases anxiety and increases a positive mood.
During the day, you might want to set a reminder on your phone or post it on the fridge to breathe, drink water, find the beat, and cool down/stretch. Practicing these suggestions will lead to a more balanced and healthy life for you and your child. You could also add a fitness class, while you’re at it.