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Working Out with Babies and Toddlers

Cardio Partner Time
If you have enough room in your home, you can buy cardiovascular exercise equipment that you both can use at the same time. No, we don't recommend both of you running on a treadmill together – that's taking togetherness a bit too far. But you can follow the lead of our friends who own a treadmill, Stairclimber, and stationary bike. Frequently, when their three-year-old boy hits the hay, they'll hop on one of the above-mentioned pieces of equipment and exercise together for 20 to 30 minutes. If your child is considerably younger, you can take turns. It is best to devise a system that works out the logistics of who attends the snoozer should he or she wake up before the allotted workout time is over.

Strength Training with Your Partner
A great way to exercise together is to strength train by literally opposing each other. While it sounds goofy, using the resistance of your partner, you can replicate virtually any exercise that you can do in a gym. Manual resistance exercises are also a great way for a couple to encourage each other to exercise and participate in each other's fitness. Jonathan used these techniques extensively when he worked as a personal trainer and is still a strong advocate of the technique. Manual resistance allows you to work any muscle you can think of, at any angle you like, and you don't have to worry about moving from machine to machine or changing weights.

Working Out with Baby
If you are fortunate enough to be able to go to the gym, pick one with a baby-sitting facility. Most health clubs require that the child be at least two years old unless there are classes specifically for new moms and their babies. Dads can go and give Mom a chance to rest at home. Moms can go if Dad is at home and there is no baby-sitter. This way, new parents can get a bit of sorely needed quiet time alone.

If you do find a gym that offers child care for infants, it's important that you go check out the sitter and the space before you work out there. Observe how he or she interacts with the other children. Remember, trust your instincts on how you feel about this person. If you like her, it's a good idea to get your child familiar with the person and space before leaving them alone – otherwise you may spend most of your workout time running from the gym to your crying child. While this might be a good workout, it's not terribly relaxing.

Rocking Out with Your Baby
We once read somewhere that a great way for a new mom and baby to bond was to spend some quality time working out together. As hardened cynics, we pictured the drooling infant holding a stopwatch in his or her chubby hand, shouting, "Fast, Mom, pick it up into a higher fat-burning zone." What the author meant, of course, was that spending time with her infant doing something the mother enjoys is a good way to improve Mom's mental and physical health – an incalculable benefit to all involved.

As we mentioned, the best option is a nice, brisk walk – an age-old exercise that is usually invigorating, stamina-building, and fat-burning all at the same time.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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