Your job as a childcare provider is an active job, to say the least. You work at an intense pace both physically and mentally all day long.
It is no surprise that by the end of the day, you may find yourself sighing in relief. This is quite possibly your first chance to relax and focus on yourself and your pledge to a healthier lifestyle.
Ideally, you might head to the gym for a yoga class or take a long walk listening to your favorite songs on headphones. However, between running errands and preparing a wholesome meal for your family and friends, your free time seems to vanish. Your list of after-work obligations can be lengthy.
For many people, it is difficult finding time to manage a pledge for a healthier lifestyle. For this reason, a simple guide known as the Activity Pyramid was created.
The Activity Pyramid is a figure that describes types of movements, along with information on how often, how intense, and how long you should be active during a week. The Activity Pyramid helps you manage your health through choosing activities to energize, build muscle, and give your heart rate a jump start.
The Activity Pyramid suggests that adults should be physically active every day. Physical activity refers to any body movement which requires energy and is carried out by the muscular system.
This type of movement contributes to better health, but it is not designed to improve fitness. Many daily tasks may fit in the category of physical activity.
For health benefits, physical activity should be moderate or vigorous and should add up to at least 30 minutes each day. Moderate activity can occur throughout the day as you walk the children to and from outdoor play, clean up after mealtime, help put toys away, or fold laundry.
More vigorous activity might include dancing and moving to music with the children in your care, mowing the lawn, or going for a brisk walk to unwind. So park your car a little further away from the store or work, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and keep moving.
Aerobic Exercise or Recreational Activities
The Activity Pyramid suggests that adults participate in some sort of aerobic exercise or recreational activity 3-5 times per week for at least 20 consecutive minutes each time.
Aerobic exercise involves the use of oxygen and causes the heart and lungs to work harder than when at rest. Moreover, it is planned, structured, and repetitive movements of the body to promote overall physical fitness.
The great thing about aerobic exercise is that it does not have to be boring and repetitive. Many popular recreational activities can be aerobic such as brisk walking, biking, swimming, playing tennis, and hiking. You can even dance your way through aerobic exercise!
Strength Training, Flexibility, and Leisure Activities
Incorporating strength training, flexibility, and leisure activities 2-3 times per week for at least 20 minutes will make a difference in the way you look and feel!
Who does not want to burn calories long after their workout? Strength training can provide that benefit as well as increase the density and overall function of our bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
Strength training does not require a gym or expensive equipment. There are several ways to incorporate strength training into your daily life.
The overall goal is to stimulate the muscles in your body more than they are used to. One way to do this is by working against your own body weight, such as doing lunges, squats, or pushups. Try modified push-ups, during which you allow your knees to rest on the ground.
You also can use items around your house for strength training. Soup cans, water bottles, or other weights offer resistance and can help you with an upper-body workout.
Flexibility is the component of fitness that is most overlooked and probably the easiest to incorporate into your daily life. You can stretch your muscles at any time--whether taking care of a child or preparing dinner--it is just a matter of doing it!
The goal is to concentrate on stretching every muscle from head to toe. Each muscle group should be stretched for at least 30 seconds to one minute--or as long as a typical television commercial during your favorite show.
Try to stretch every part of your body. Remember, stretch to the point of tension, not pain. And do not bounce during stretches!
Participating in leisure activities is recommended not just for physical health, but for mental health as well. Whether learning something new or playing your favorite sport, leisure activities give you a break from everyday stresses and help you relax.
Attention: sitting on the couch watching other people work out will not help you get fit! For every hour of television or video game playing, be sure to incorporate at least the same amount to moving your body.
Laura L. Miller, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sport Management, California University of Pennsylvania
Christina L. L. Martin, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sport and Fitness Management, Troy University
Tyler D. Martin, M.S., CSCS
Assistant Professor of Physical Education and Sport and Fitness Management, Troy University
GetFit Tennessee, www.getfittn.com/fitness/fitness_start.htm
My Pyramid, mypyramid.gov/pyramid/physical_activity.html