Getting and/or Staying Fit as a Stay at Home Dad

Good looking father at home

Getting ready for a race

As a stay at home dad, any dad for that matter, it is important to stay fit and healthy. Why? You ask. I can give you four reasons, 1) you want to see your kids grow up and eventually meet your grandkids; 2) you want your kids to be healthy and they will look to you as a role model; 3) you need the energy to play with your kids, and good god, do they have a lot of excess energy; and 4) if you look good, it will increase the chances that you get to have sex with your wife.

Dashing Dad and son

Dashing Son passing Dashing Dad (yes he is wearing a cape, it makes him faster)

Now, I am not saying that you need to start training for a marathon, or commit to multiple hours in the gym every day. But keeping the beer gut at bay is a good thing. Most weight loss/exercise regimes say to have at least 30 minutes of a continuous elevated heart rate, usually about three times a week.

Here is probably a good place to say that I am in no way a professional fitness trainer, or even an expert. So here is a disclaimer: “Check with your health care professional to make sure you are healthy enough, for exercise.” There, I’ve said it, so no lawsuits starting with, “But Dashing Dad said…”

Me, I am a runner, so I am going to start there. If you haven’t ran in a while (i.e. high school PE), start with a Couch to 5k program, there are several versions on the web. This program starts you off slow, alternating running and walking until you can run 5k (3.1 miles) or 30 minutes continuously. At the end of the multiple week program, the workout takes about 45 minutes, including warm up and cool down. Another thing is try to start off slow, just because you ran 7 min/miles in high school, doesn’t mean you should try to start off at that pace. If you start off too fast, you will start to hurt, and you will stop running. With running, you can run with a kid. Just push them in a stroller, even a non-jogging stroller. Just be very aware of obstructions, bad roads/sidewalks, etc. If your kid is riding their bike, have the ride along side of you (assuming of course the streets are safe to do so).

One bit of advice for running, go to a local running store to buy your shoes. Get fitted, and spend the $100-$200 on a good pair of shoes. They will last you 500+ miles and your feet, shins, and knees will thank you. Once you find a brand or style you like, then you can try to find them cheaper on the internet. By the way, I run a lot, and I like it, so stay tuned for more running posts.

I also like biking, but biking with kids can be hard.  I have only gone on three or four bike rides in the five months since the Dashing Daughter was born. Unless they are old enough to go into a bike trailer or carrier, you have to find somebody to watch the kids while you go for a ride. This can be your wife, or somebody you can trade baby sitting duty with. If they are old enough to go into the trailer, your kid will also have to have something to entertain them during your ride, and hope they don’t get motion sick. Another option is to go in the early mornings or early evenings when kids are sleeping, but it is dark, and even with lights that can be a hairy situation. When you are biking, wear a helmet; if for no other reason than to set an example for your kids, who, by law, have to wear one.

Biking with kid in trailer2

Bike trailer loaded with water, snacks, and an electronic game.

If outdoor exercise isn’t your thing, you can go to a gym. The problem is that gyms memberships cost money and can be expensive. That said, you can get a 2 year membership at 24hr Fitness for about $350 at Costco. At $18 a month, it is pretty much the cheapest option I have found beyond jumping to gym to gym for their first month free deals. Check to see if your gym has any daycare facilities and what their rules/hours are.

As a stay at home dad, you can also work out at home while the kids are sleeping, either during their naps or normal nighttime sleep. You could hop on whatever exercise equipment you have around the house, or you can get dumbbells, a weight bench, kettle balls, resistance bands, and a plethora of other stuff to assist in your work out. There are also a bunch of workout videos you can buy, or even stream on the internet. I attempted a work out by Jillian Michaels (she is one of the Biggest Loser trainers), and it nearly killed me.  You can use your gaming systerm. We have the Wii Fit exercise stuff and that works pretty good, though I find it a bit too slow paced for me. It takes too long to change between exercises, especially if I want to go from cardio to something else. My other problem is that the Dashing Son is addicted to the TV and will watch me work out at 5am  just to stare at the TV. If you have this issue, make your kid work out with you. It will either make him stop coming out of his room during his nap, or he will start exercising with you and it can be something that you do together.

Staying fit on wii

Dashing Son doing “exercises” on the Wii Fit

But if you are trying to avoid spending money, there are also various free “challenges” you can do. There are 100 pushup, 200 sit up, 200 squat, and 25 pull up challenges on the internet. Each is a 6 week program, and they work. I have completed the sit-up and squat challenges and just starting week 2 of the push-ups challenge now (oh it hurts!). Toss in some jumping jacks, arm circles, calf raises, leg lifts, or lunges and you can build up a decent sweat in 30 minutes with nothing but a pair of shorts.  If you need some extra weights, fill up some water bottles (16 oz of water weighs 1 lb, a gallon weighs 8 lbs, and 1L of water weights 1 kg-2.2 lbs) and use those.

Not only is becoming the fit and healthy dad a great way to enjoy playing with your kids, you can use your extra energy to enjoy playing with your wife *Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge*.

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