As a parent or guardian of small children, you’re all too familiar with the challenge of creating a consistent exercise routine
. If you have a job on top of this caretaking role, chances are, your schedule feels completely maxed out.
That’s the genius of stroller fitness—it turns a child-centric activity that you likely do already into a simple and effective workout that already fits within your schedule. This is an ideal solution for busy parents with minimal time who still want to prioritize health and well-being.
If you have 30 minutes to strap your little ones in a stroller and walk outside, then you can make this exercise routine work for you. Here’s what to know about the benefits of a stroller workout and how to optimize your results. Plus, we’ll share some variations and equipment you can incorporate to make it challenging.
Why a stroller workout is effective for fitness
A recent study from the Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (TJSCSM
) followed a group of ethnically diverse postpartum women, who were tasked with pushing their newborns in a stroller at a moderate-intensity pace for 30 minutes, five days a week. Over the course of a 12-month period, most of these women reported a healthier weight, increased aerobic capacity and higher self-efficacy to maintain an active lifestyle.
Not only does this actually work for physical and mental fitness, it also helps minimize the risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and other metabolic-related chronic illnesses, the research found. That’s because this type of exercise combines both cardiovascular and resistance training
for a low impact, full-body workout.
Between the cardio benefits of a brisk pace jog or walk and the resistance benefits of an upper-body pushing motion, stroller fitness is an efficient way to build muscle and lose excess weight. Bonus: you get to spend time outside with your little one at the same time.
How to maximize the results of a stroller workout
On its own, stroller fitness is a convenient way to integrate physical exertion into your normal routine. But if you want to make this activity more strenuous and effective, keep the following tips in mind.
Stretch before and afterward.
It’s important to warm up the muscles before any workout and allow for a cool down once you’re finished. A consistent stretching routine keeps your muscles long and flexible to sustain the full range of motion that exercise requires, as well as promote muscle recovery and repair. If you don’t stretch on a regular basis, the muscles will become short, weak, and tight which increases your risk of soreness and injuries, according to Harvard Health
Use wearable ankle weights.
Increase resistance and energy load with a pair of ankle weights. Research from the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation
found that ankle weights can improve walking balance, velocity, cadence and muscle exertion. However, don’t use weights that are too heavy because that can reduce your overall
Use speed intervals.
According to the fitness experts at Greatist
, speed interval workouts help increase endurance, convert more fat into energy, improve aerobic capacity and respiration, activate more muscle fibers, and burn a higher number of calories. Start with five minutes of walking, increase to a brisk jog for 10 minutes, push yourself at a fast run for three minutes, then do a five-minute walking cool down.
Don’t forget a bottle of water.
The human body is 60 percent water, and the muscles alone are made up of 75 percent water, says Runner’s World
. Since each cell requires optimal hydration in order to function, a lack of water will result in less efficient athletic performance. Your muscles will fatigue quicker, your breathing and heart rate might become irregular, and you won’t sweat as much, leading to potential heat exhaustion. Always bring a water bottle
with you and be sure to drink it periodically while you exercise.
5 Stroller Workout Resistance Exercises
Resistance training can help you get even more from your stroller workout. Use these exercises to work your whole body and push yourself on days when you’re looking for a challenge. Do each exercise to 10 to 15 reps and repeat the entire circuit 3 to 5 times. Don’t forget to bring a yoga mat
, if you can, so you have a comfortable surface to lay on for the abdominal exercises.
Single Arm Chest Press
Stand at the bottom of an incline (such as a sloped driveway) with your feet hip-width apart and your right hand on the stroller’s handlebar, bent at the elbow. Make sure the stroller is on the incline. Straighten your arm to push the stroller forward uphill, then hold for two seconds, before returning to the start position. Focus on primarily activating the chest muscles. Remember to the full amount of repetitions on both sides.
Standing Stroller Row
Stand at the top of an incline with your feet hip-width apart and both hands on the stroller’s handlebar, spaced about shoulder-width apart. Make sure the stroller faces down the incline. Without loosening your hold, let the stroller glide downhill until your arms are in full extension, then use the muscles in your upper-back to pull the stroller toward your chest. Maintain a straight spine and tight core.
Isometric Bicep Lift
Stand on a flat, level surface with your feet hip-width and both hands on the stroller’s handlebar, spaced about shoulder-width apart, palms facing up. Lift the stroller’s back wheels 1 to 2 inches off the ground, while making sure the front wheel doesn’t move. Use your bicep muscles to hover the back wheels for five seconds, before returning to the start position. Focus on controlled movements and isometric holds.
Sitting Back Extension
Sit on a flat, level surface, facing toward the stroller, with your feet anchored tightly on either side of the front wheel(s). Make sure your spine is tall and straight, then cross both arms over your chest. Use the lower-back muscles to slowly lean the spine and core a few inches backward, as low as you can control. Hold for five seconds, then activate your upper and lower abdominal muscles to return to the start position.
Reverse Abdominal Curl
Lie down on your back on a flat-level surface, facing away from the stroller, with your head near the front wheel. Hold onto the front wheel behind you with both hands. Extend the legs in front of you on the ground, then activate the lower abdominal muscles to raise them toward the sky at 90 degrees. Use the lower abdominals to lift your hips off the ground, then lower the hips down again with your lower-back pressed firmly in the ground. Focus on straight knees and small pulsing motions.
Get started anytime with a stroller workout
If you need a quick but effective way to tone some muscle and break a sweat with a kiddo(s) in tow, get your movement in with a stroller workout. Whether you’re just now starting to ease back into postpartum exercise, or you want more of a challenge with speed or resistance intervals, this workout regimen is adaptable to meet your specific fitness goals.