Accidental exercise and a fresh perspective

by Kim on May 16, 2013

I have a new fitness regimen.

It’s called: Summer.

Or I guess, more accurately, summer as a stay-at-home mom.

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Now that the weather’s finally tolerable (depending on your interpretation…90 degrees the other day??), we’ve been spending tons of time outside. And it’s awesome.

There are plenty of days when I question my decision to be a stay-at-home mom, and plenty of days when I envy working moms, but these are the days when I feel lucky. When it’s 75 and sunny, and I have nothing more important to do than to take my son for a walk.

20130514_155724I finally got him to smile on cue, in response to CHEEEESE! It’s awesome.

Not only do I get to reap the benefits of all the extra fresh air and vitamin D, but something about having a toddler in the summer seems to result in a lot of “accidental exercise.” Lots of extra walking, pushing, lifting, and general movement throughout the day.

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By the way, I totally jacked the term “accidental exercise” from this month’s Fitness mag. I like it. It’s something I want more of in my life.

Instead of relying solely on structured “work out time,” which is often at the mercy of a 1-year-old’s nap schedule and sometimes linked to feelings of dread and obligation, I want my whole day to be full of tiny little effortless “workouts” that are the result of just living life. (Who doesn’t, right?)

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Now, the question is: how can I keep this momentum going when summer’s not such a novelty anymore? At some point, I’m going to get sick of walking in the same loop around the neighborhood every day, going to the same park, and playing the same games in the driveway.

Well…I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Oh, and speaking of this month’s Fitness, there was an interesting article in it called “Can You Be Fat but Fit?”

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Here were some of the highlights that stood out to me:

–Being overweight, in and of itself, might not be the health threat we think it is. In fact, moderately obese people actually live about 3.1 years longer than normal-weight people. (The trick is that these moderately obese people must also be metabolically healthy, meaning their blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels need to be in a healthy range.)

–Many of us fail to lose weight, and may even gain some, after embarking on an exercise program. We already know this about dieting, but it’s true of exercise kicks too. Possible culprits: an increased appetite, food rewards, and more time vegging on the couch outside of the gym. (Aka the “I worked out today!” effect.)

–Exercise doesn’t rev up the metabolism, as we’ve been led to believe. (?!?!) It actually does the exact opposite. Researchers suspect that metabolic slowing may be the body’s protective attempt to preserve energy when it senses that more calories are being burned through exercise. Plus, a fit body operates more efficiently—the heart doesn’t have to pump as fast, breathing is less rapid—which ultimately reduces the number of calories burned throughout the day.

The point of the article was not—I don’t think—to make us all throw up our hands and say to hell with the gym. It was to remind us of the true benefits of exercise—the ones that have nothing to do with weight, but more to do with generally keeping us from dying.

So the next time I come out of a rocky workout, not an ounce lighter and already thinking about cookies, I can remind myself that I still have something pretty awesome going for me: heart disease can’t touch this.

Perspective, right?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome May 16, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Very interesting points made in that article. I might have to check it out. I agree, being a stay at home mom during the warmer weather months is so much fun! We are actually outside now! I know, I should be playing with The Nugget but he’s happily playing in his sandbox for the time being :-)
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Presley @ Run Pretty May 16, 2013 at 5:36 pm

One day they’ll be running, biking, etc WITH US for real. Exciiiiting!
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Erika May 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Chasing/playing with toddlers and yard work definitely count as workouts in my book!

I also like having dogs to walk – great motivation and an excuse to get outside and move (and our son loves to hold the leash while he rides in the stroller).

Just like “fat people” can be fit that “skinny people” can be unfit. I have a coworker that is stick thin and eats poptarts, candy bars and pop all day and doesn’t ever work out. I may be bigger than her but I know I could outrun her without huffing and puffing.

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Kim May 16, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I used to envy those people, but not anymore. The reality is, regardless of the way your coworker looks, she probably doesn’t feel that great. Definitely better to be fitter, regardless of weight.

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emma May 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm

I agree with the naps controlling the workouts! Naps are always in flex around here and it’s hard to get into a workout or a yoga practice while staring at the monitor to see when baby will wake up. :/ I’ve implemented “quiet time” but my little one still needs attention during it!
Moving throughout the day is the most important thing (and having a heavy kiddo to carry doesn’t hurt either!). :)
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Kim May 16, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Exactly! I hate when he randomly takes an amazing nap and I can only look back on it later and think, “If only I’d KNOWN I was going to get 2 interrupted hours!” You’re right–something about the fact that they can wake up at any second is just so distracting.

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Katie @ running4cupcakes May 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

Totally agree with this one!! I work 4 days a week and am able to be home with Luke on the 5th day and I love the nicer weather, going to the park, going for walks and playing outside – I like that it keeps us both active and entertained!

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Kim May 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm

That’s nice that you get that day together every week! And what’s REALLY nice is that even if you do the same things every time, you probably won’t get burnt out on them. :)

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Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama May 16, 2013 at 8:07 am

I love enjoying lots of accidental exercise in spring, summer, and fall. Every evening after dinner, we’ve been taking our girls for walks, bike rides, or trips to the playground. And pulling my girls up the massive hill in our backyard definitely counts as a workout!

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Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama May 16, 2013 at 8:09 am

Oops, left out a key word. Pulling my girls up the massive hill in their red wagon definitely counts as a workout!

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Kim May 16, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Bike rides sound really nice–I need to get a bike! And the red wagon workout is definitely legit. :)

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Kim May 16, 2013 at 7:00 am

I agree with that article – I have known some very un-fit skinny people, too!
I stayed home with my boys when they were little and I’m glad that I was able to BUT there were so many days when I wondered what I was doing and wished that I was going to a “real” job. It is hard!!!
Love your “accidental exercise”.
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Kim May 16, 2013 at 3:54 pm

I guess there are “those days” with any job. Luckily, there are enough awesome days to balance it out!

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