Get­ting ac­tive with­out go­ing to the gym

Want to get ac­tive but hate the gym? Erin Reilly has some ideas.

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

The first slither of sun through the over­cast sky saw a traf­fic jam of Auck­land pro­por­tions con­gre­gate on my favourite beach.

Young lovers in­ter­locked fin­gers, posses of ac­tive wear-wear­ing mums raced pushchairs, and par­ents chased wild-eyed kids who hadn’t been out­side for months. A pen­sioner was even at­tempt­ing to push his walk­ing frame over sea­weed and around drift­wood; I stopped short of of­fer­ing him a pig­gy­back.

The ar­rival of sum­mer is an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing, but the mix of re­lief and an­tic­i­pa­tion comes with a se­vere re­gret that you sat on the couch for the last three months watch­ing Gil­more Girls re­runs and eat­ing potato chips by the bag (surely it’s not just me).

Ev­ery­where you look some­one’s telling you that you need to get ac­tive. It’s good for your weight. It’s good for your men­tal health. It’s good for your liver. It’s good for the po­lar bears. But as a self-con­fessed gyma­phobe who’s too poor to buy her own equip­ment and too gumby to do Kayla Itsines’ at-home work­outs with­out pro­fes­sional in­struc­tion, the op­tions for get­ting ac­tive are some­what lim­ited. Or so I thought.

My best friend lives close to my favourite beach. To kill two birds with one stone, we take a power stroll along the shore at least once a week. Not only do we par­take in our fair share of gos­sip­ing, we also get ac­tive – with­out wast­ing our hard-earned cash on un­nec­es­sary salmon eggs bene and soy chai lat­tes.

Then there’s my pushchair. Empty, it weighs about 10 kilo­grams. Add my 9-month-old and the weight dou­bles. Push­ing that weight to the su­per­mar­ket in­stead of jump­ing in the car and driv­ing it there is a proac­tive way to choose ac­tiv­ity over sloth­ful­ness.

A bunch of my friends have kids and pushchairs too. Or­gan­is­ing a weekly ‘‘bring your baby’’ walk­ing group is a great way to get hearts pumping while col­lec­tively moan­ing about off­spring that refuse to sleep through the night. If pushchair-own­ing friends are few and far be­tween, ask around on Neigh­bourly; there’s bound to be some­one near you who’s dy­ing to get out of the house.

This one’s for my fu­ture self: walk the kids to school or go for a bike ride with them af­ter­wards. The bus might be more con­ve­nient but seeing your kids off to school then leap­ing back into bed for the rest of the day isn’t con­ducive to pro­duc­tiv­ity or ac­tiv­ity. And this one’s for my par­tic­u­larly mo­ti­vated self (I’m sure I’ll meet her one day). Sign up to an event that you need to train for, like a 10km run or ‘‘swim the har­bour’’ meet. Of­ten an im­mov­able date and a regis­tra­tion fee is all you need to get up an hour ear­lier to pound the pave­ment or swim some laps.

Still need some mo­ti­va­tion? Your neigh­bours might be seek­ing the same in­cen­tive. Post a plea for an ex­er­cise buddy on Neigh­bourly; you might be sur­prised who replies.

You don’t have to go crazy, just a gen­tle stroll with other mums is enough to get you out and ac­tive.

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