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Easy Leg Workouts for MilParents: Exercising With Your Child

Attributed to: Katie Lange, DoD News, Defense Media Activity. This article is excerpted from DoD Live.

Exercise is important to your overall health and a big part of being in the military. But anyone who has children knows it’s hard to squeeze in time to exercise when the kids are around. Here’s an idea: why not include your kids in your home workout?

Video by Air Force Staff Sgt. Da’Nette Bruton

Streaming YouTube is currently blocked from DOD networks.

Exercising together can help your child develop motor skills while having fun and bonding over a shared activity. To help you get started, here is a series of exercises you can do with your child that focus on building lower body strength.

A quick note before you get started: Online health information doesn’t replace guidance from a healthcare provider, so check with your doctor before you change or start an exercise program. All forms of exercise pose some inherent risks, so parents must be mindful of the safety of their children. Exercise with your child when you are well rested and free of injury and ask your pediatrician if the exercise is appropriate for your child’s age and development.

What they do: Squats strengthen muscles throughout your entire body and increase flexibility.

Involving your child: Put them on your shoulders, holding their hands, or on your back like you’re giving them a piggyback.

  • Make sure your feet are slightly wider than your hips and that your weight is in your heels.
  • Squat down, as if you’re about to sit on a chair, parallel to the ground. Send your buttocks back first, and your knees slightly outward.
  • Keep your back straight, with a neutral spine and your chest and shoulders up. Don’t round your back.
  • If you struggle with balance, look at one spot just in front of you to hold your focus. Make sure your knees aren’t going over your ankles – they should be in line with each other. Overextending your knees can actually hurt them.

What they do: Lunges target muscles in your abdomen, hips and legs. They help promote balance.

Involving your child: Hold him or her on your back the same way you did for squats.

  • Start with your feet together standing straight.
  • Step forward with one leg, bending that knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor.
  • Don’t let your knee extend over your toes.
  • Return to the starting position.
  • Do the same with the other leg.

What they do: These work your glutes, but they also stretch your core and arm muscles. The pose can build strength in the muscles surrounding the spine and improve balance and posture.

Involving your child: Let your child sit on your lap and hold onto your knees.

  • Sit on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Put your hands on the floor under your shoulders, with your fingers pointing in front of you.
  • Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart.
  • Push through your heels and bridge your hips up, squeezing your glutes as you go. Your body should look like a table, with your torso and hips parallel to the floor.
  • Hold the pose for two seconds, then lower back down.

What they do: These work your quadriceps, whether you’re seated or lying down.

Involving your child: Have your child grip their hands and legs onto your shins. You can hold their hands, too, if you want.

  • Start with your knees bent in a 90-degree position, whether you’re sitting or lying down.
  • Put your child on your shins.
  • Extend your lower legs until they’re nearly straight, but not quite – you don’t want to lock your knees, because that can put too much pressure on the joints.
  • Extend your lower legs back down to a 90-degree position.

What they do: Calf extensions build these muscles, which can help you to walk, run and jump. They also help to improve your balance.

Involving your child: While standing, hug your baby to your chest or put them on your back, like in the lunge and squat exercises.

  • Stand straight up, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Rise up on your toes, squeezing the calves at the top, and then slowly lower back down.
  • Resist making this a bouncy movement. Controlled movements work the muscles more.
  • For a greater stretch, stand somewhere where you can drop your heel lower than your toes. Then drop your heel as low as possible before coming back to a level position.

If you do two sets of 15 reps of each of these exercises, you’ll get a good workout and spend some quality time with your child. Get fit and have fun.

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