Jewish World Review July 3, 2003 / 3 Tamuz, 5763

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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Consumer Reports

Terrible twos make terrific workout | You know those actresses who give birth, then distribute photographs of their protruding hip bones and rippled abs a few weeks later? I think there's a distinct possibility they're wimps. Hear me out.

If those screen stars were as buff and fit as they claim, they wouldn't be at the gym half the day toning muscles and sipping bottled water. They'd be at home chasing their crumb cruncher, sprinting from the washing machine to the refrigerator and crawling on their hands and knees scraping dried cereal off the floor instead of paying some nanny do it. Chasing kids? Now that's a workout that does a body good.

We had loaners last week. Two small toddlers bunked with us, favorite blankies, stuffed dogs, velcro sandals, the whole nine yards. With the exercise we received, the last thing we need is a trainer. We may, however, need Motrin, heat packs and three months of bed rest.

There's a reason the Divine designed people in their 20s to have babies. At that age when you bend over to change a diaper, you can still get up again. Nonetheless, a full-toddler workout is extremely beneficial at any age.

Looking for upper arm strength? Try stuffing a toddler who has gone limp into a car seat. It's like bench pressing weights that keeping sliding back and forth on the bar. Repeat lifts 116 times a day and after 48 hours those upper arms will have some mighty fine form.

For the stretch to counter the muscle bulk, do repeated leans into the mini-van to reach the buckles on said car seats. Manufacturers deliberately make these difficult to access, fasten, hook and clasp in order to maximize the stretch. Some people have grown so limber doing these stretches that they've gone on to participate in community ballet.

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The high-impact cardio workout is possible, too. First, you must secure a 2-year-old boy who wakes up every morning with one goal in mind: to maim, injure or wound himself before nap time, or preferably 10 a.m. You'd be surprised how fast your legs can move when you spot a toddler with a table knife, red Sharpie or brick that he is about to drop square on his little fat foot. And you'll never know the lightning-fast sprints you are capable of until you see little fingers about to be pinched in folding doors, wooden shutters or a metal storm door. We're talking target heart rate in under five seconds.

Toddlers offer endurance workouts as well. Take the fun little game of airplane. You lie on your back, hoist the tot's belly on the bottoms of your feet and fly the kid to Georgia, Maine, California and back again. If this game came with frequent flyer points, you could fly to Rome and back with a first-class upgrade at no charge.

Toddlers also provide interval workouts as well. We call it the two -and-twenty. You sit for two minutes, then rapidly respond when the toddler wishes to see you head butt a lightweight plastic ball in the backyard for 20 minutes. Sit for two, head butt for 20. A calorie burn, plus a strength builder.

Naturally, the complete toddler workout comes with a cool down period. Tuck the little ones into bed, wait until they fall asleep, gaze at their sweet little faces and breathe deep. In and out. Then, extend your right arm, bend at the elbow and pat yourself on the back. You managed to get toddlers from sun up to sun down without major injury, accident or permanent pain. Now that's a good workout.

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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.

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© 2001, Lori Borgman