I’ve had five children in twelve years. While I may appear slim, my body is not what it used to be when I was a teenager, and I am working to make a few changes. Lately, I have been brainstorming simple, quick ways to build strength – cardio, core, muscle, emotional, mental, spiritual – overall strength. I have the emotional, mental, spiritual covered pretty well with relaxation meditation and awareness activities, although I am always open for further integration.
On the physical tip, I have purchased and practiced many DVDs in various forms of exercise – yoga, aerobic, muscle sculpting, post-natal, pre-natal, pelvic floor, core exercises, yoga with the family, and so on. I really enjoy working with all of these instructional workouts and bring much that I have learned into my everyday life.
At the same time, I don’t always (feel like I) have the time to pop in a 40-60 minute DVD. This reminds me of the lovely Rodney Yee AM DVD with five 20 minute workouts for every morning of the week – I really love waking up that way! Okay, I just don’t always want to pop in a DVD. Yet, I know I feel better when I exercise daily: I sleep more restfully, respond more lovingly to challenges, and overall feel better about myself and my life. Exercise helps me process emotions and tune into my body.
As I was walking up the stairs the other day in our bi-level home it occurred to me that the action of walking up and down the stairs (especially while packing a 16 pound baby) is quite the exercise in itself. In this everyday action I get to focus on proper posture, core strength, cardio strength, leg and arm strength, and overall intention (the stairs and landing are wood and sometimes slippery).
I wondered, why not use my stairs for overall strength through deliberately exercising on them?
I can do it with or without the baby, in the amount of time that I have, at a pace that works for me and my body, it can be done when the kids are awake or asleep, and I can do short sessions throughout the day by multiplying my regular use of the stairs (going up and down a few extra times when I need to use the stairs.
Below are some ways I am using my stairs for strength . . . maybe you can too if you’d like a challenge. Although I have a lot of interest in health and well being, I am not a certified physical fitness instructor, so please use your own judgment and intuition as you consider using stairs for strength.
- Wear gripping shoes (like those I would use for running, climbing, or hiking) or go barefoot so I stay connected to the floor (socks can be way slippery on wood)
- If I am wearing the baby, make sure she is in an ergonomically supportive carrier (like the Ergo), it is properly fastened so she’s snug but not tight, and comfortable for both of us.
- Before beginning, spend a few moments or minutes grounding, feeling my body solid, rooted into the ground and earth, muscles strong supporting the bones, anchoring deeply into proper posture – at the top of the stairs if I would like.
- Hold the railing initially and walk rather than go quickly.
- If not holding the baby, make sure she is in a safe space (stair gate closed).
- Focus on my breath and be aware of how I am holding my body, feeling in my body, noticing any tension while allowing it to release with the out breath.
- Walk the stairs slowly at first – down, then up as set to gently stretch and warm the muscles. Repeat for a certain number of reps (10-20 to start) or for a specified amount of time (5-10 minutes to start), gradually working up to a faster pace or amount of reps/time as able.
- Engage muscles, trust and listen to my body, step in place for a few seconds to rest.
- Bring in mantras or favorite quotes, strengthen the mind and body at the same time. Write out a list of thoughts I am working to integrate/affirm and choose some to repeat as I walk the stairs. Create a sequence if desired.
- Combine stair walking with household responsibilities that need to be completed on different levels of the home and alternate floors to increase stair walking (i.e. emptying trash, laundry, vacuuming on the stairs or on different floors).
How do you exercise in your home?
Photo Credit: Author