Make the School Run Fun (And Get Fit at the Same Time)

With the schools now back, you may be finding less time for exercise.  In between manic morning routines, school runs and work it can be difficult finding time – and energy – to schedule a workout. 

You could save yourself time and money by using the school run as a mini-workout.  According to Walk to School, a campaign to get more children walking to school, the average walk to school is 1.5 miles.  This walk in itself can help you burn up to 300 calories a day.  (This is based on an average weight of 150 lbs walking an average speed of 2 mph).

However, if you do this every day, your body will adapt to it and it’ll no longer be a challenge so why not maximise the exercise potential of the school run to see real results?

Speed it up

When walking to school, you’re probably going to be moving at a child’s pace of about 2 mph, less if they’re dawdlers.  Once you’ve safely dispatched them at the gates, crank up the pace and hot-foot it home.  Increasing the pace to a brisk walk can burn an extra 50 calories.  Even better, don your trainers and jog home.   

Feeling some resistance?

The more resistance we have (I’m talking physical, not mental – that’s often in plentiful supply) the harder our bodies have to work.  Pushing a buggy, carrying a baby in a sling or simply carrying a lightly weighted rucksack (no more than 10 lbs and carried in a well-fitting rucksack on both shoulders) will all increase the calories burned and make our hearts and lungs work harder.

Head for the hills

Rather than avoiding hills as most of us do, go out of your way to find the hilliest route.  Power up the hills for maximum benefit, knowing you have a nice easy cruise down on the other side.

Put your heart (and soul) into it

Invest in a heart rate monitor to stick on when you’re walking.  It can help you work in your ‘training zone’, give you an idea of how hard you’re working and hopefully give you the motivation to push yourself that little bit further when it starts getting easy, because believe me, it will.

Make your own gym

Resistance exercise boosts metabolism – fact.  Muscle burns more calories than fat so the greater lean tissue we have, the more calories we’ll be burning, even at rest.  Sound good?  Thought so.  Incorporate resistance exercises into your walk home by making a detour via a park and using the equipment to your advantage.  Think tricep dips and press-ups on a bench, incline pull-ups on a climbing frame and sets of abdominal exercises on the grass.

A weighty issue

If you’re really serious you could grab some hand weights and ankle weights and do a bit of power walking.  Using the hand weights, swing your arms for maximum effort.

Do this each day and it’ll soon pay off.  Doing this with the kids also sets a great example.  Try and rope them in too – it’ll be fun for younger kids getting involved with Mum or Dad.  Older kids will probably just recoil in embarrassment but hey, you can’t win them all.

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