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Working Out with Babies and Toddlers

Baby Trailers
Baby trailers are basically strollers that you can hook up to your bicycle. Keep the following in mind before you head out the door with your precious cargo.
  • Always use shoulder and lap belts on the child.
  • Avoid busy streets whenever possible.
  • Give yourself room to stop. Braking distance increases and braking control decreases with loads.
  • With the additional width of the trailer, be careful taking turns.
  • Practice using the trailer without the child to get used to the feel of the attachment. When you take your child out for the first time, make sure it is in an area that is not busy.
  • Baby trailers are not for newborns; tots must be at least one year old before you can exercise safely with them.
It's ironic that many parents would never put their child in a bike seat or trailer without a hard-shell helmet, but they won't wear one themselves. The reasoning being, apparently, that they won't crash. Such logic actually suggests a past blow to the head. It summons the old cyclist adage: The only people who don't wear helmets are the ones with nothing worth protecting.

Jog, Baby
As any New Yorker can tell you, baby joggers are extremely popular. Initially, when Deidre began training for the 1999 New York City Marathon, she thought it delightful that Prospect Park was full of jogging parents pushing their children around the park. As she got fitter, however, she developed a healthy disdain for the parent/child teams that were moving faster than she was. One woman in particular named Barbara Brewer even passed speedy men while pushing her little one. Of course, Barbara, one of the toughest women we've laid eyes on, clocked subseven-minute miles with her newborn as she trained for the World Duathlon Championships. (A duathlon is a triathlon without the swim – run/bike/run.)

Baby joggers are basically idiot proof, but there are a few things to keep in mind. While some manufacturers say it's safe for infants as young as six to eight weeks, some pediatricians recommend six months. Weight limitations depend on the jogger itself. Be careful not to exceed the suggested weight limit, because it can cause the stroller to tip. And remember, as tempting as it may be, don't try and cajole your child into pushing you.

Questions you need to ask about the stroller you choose:

  1. Does it fold?
  2. Can it be adjusted for height?
  3. Is it safe?
  4. Is there a lifetime warranty?
Here are a few other factors to consider when purchasing a baby jogger. Do you enjoy running on pavement or off road? Generally speaking, the larger the wheels are, the more suitable for off-road jogging they are (although we don't recommend taking your child off road, as it may be too bumpy for your precious cargo). Wheels range from 12 inches to 20 inches in diameter, with 12 inches the most suitable for pavement and 20 inches suitable for the serious off-road runner. Sixteen-inch wheels are suitable for rougher surfaces such as snow and sand. In addition, wheels can be smooth or textured, with smooth wheels for pavement and textured wheels for off road.

The Least You Need to Know

  • Being new parents can be a wonderful, trying time, but there are ways to keep your fitness intact.
  • You can create a stronger bond with your little one by working out together.
  • Health clubs with baby-sitting can give new parents much needed quiet time.
  • Postpartum exercise classes are a great way for new moms to get to know one another.

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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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