Staying physically fit is challenging as we age. The physiological changes of aging include muscle loss, decreased bone density and loss of mobility.
Older bodies and grandchildren arrive together. You’ll probably find yourself saying that you don’t recall getting so tired out when your children were young. Strengthening your body through exercise will increase your physical stamina.
Staying active with the grandkids means more shared interests and bonding time. Besides, they are just so much fun to be around. Regular physical activity with your grandchildren is a great way to meet your exercise goals while giving harried parents a break. Kids are great workout buddies.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you notch up your exercise program.
Set Realistic Goals
It’s important not to go overboard when you plan and start your exercise program. One of the very best overall exercises is walking. Push that stroller! Walking will strengthen your muscles and loosen stiff joints. Walk three times a week, increasing your distance each time. Make frequent stops with your grandchild to look at flowers, birds, chipmunks and the like. Walk along the seawall and stop to examine the tidal pools and throw rocks into the ocean. Participate in community beach clean-ups. It’s fun to be part of a child’s enthusiasm. With older grandchildren you can set your walking distance goals together and celebrate your achievements with a sleepover.
Watch Your Joints
Think of low impact activities you can share. As a grandparents you really don’t need all that stress on your joints. Swimming or playing games in the pool is a great way to have fun and get exercise. Moving around in the water decreases stress on joints and water provides resistance for strengthening your muscles. If your grandkids are staying overnight, a couple of hours of pool fun will have them tired and should ensure a good night’s sleep for all.
Take Care of Your Back
If your back is aching after a day with toddler grandchildren, it could be that you aren’t using good body mechanics when lifting them. When lifting, bend your knees to get to their level and lift without bending your back. Keep your head and chest up. Reverse this process when putting a child down.
When heading out for a day adventure resist your inclination to be the pack horse. Kids love having their own backpacks and love to help so disperse the gear, snacks, drinks and changes of clothing across all adventurers.
Wear Good Shoes
Forget the flip-flops and loose sandals when you’re out with the grandkids. Get yourself some good walking shoes. They’ll provide relief to your joints and give you the firm footing you need.
Mix Up Your Activities
It’s a good idea to follow physically demanding activities with something less energetic. After a morning spent hiking, an afternoon of doing crafts and puzzles would work just fine. Plan your activities in advance to achieve the right balance. Involve the kids in day to day activities like watering the garden (every kid loves a hose), yard work, washing the car, walking the dog and household chores. They’ll love to help, you’re getting things accomplished and it’s all exercise.
Get out there, get moving and enjoy every minute with your grandkids!