A jogging stroller is an aspirational purchase. You think, I'm watching the kid, I need some exercise, I'll just buy this smooth-rolling baby carriage and presto, an easy, close-to-home workout.
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And yet — it's kind of cumbersome to push, isn't it? Are you supposed to keep your hands on it at all times, or push it a few feet ahead of you and then catch up? Alternate arms or get one huge overdeveloped arm and shoulder? And wait, is the baby crying?
Hmm, it's easier to just walk. And look, there's a cafe that sells 2,000 calories of froth in a 1,100g cup. And there's a comfy chair, and someone left a paper behind ... and before you know it, you've whiled away the morning with no exercise and a unpleasant sugar jag.
Maybe it's time to get serious about using the jogging stroller for its intended purpose: to get you a decent workout and both you and your kid some sunlight and air. (All really important for staving off post-partum depression.)
Last weekend, the New York Times covered a study that examined the benefits of running with a stroller versus running without, and offered some guidance on how to get as good a workout with carriage as you do without the carriage.
The advice boils down to this: Run as fast with the stroller as you do without it. And keep both hands on the handlebar.
Researchers at Seattle Pacific University took a group of already-fit runners and had them run 800 meters with a stroller and 800 meters without. The runners had a hard time maintaining their normal pace while pushing a stroller, and did not see the same fitness benefits as they did in an unencumbered jog. (No surprise there.)
The lead researcher concluded that the best bang for the buck is to try really hard to keep your "with-stroller" pace as fast as your "without-stroller" pace. From the Times:
"The same 30-minute jog that would have burned about 360 calories for a 68kg man or woman without a stroller should incinerate closer to 380 now, an amount that is small in terms of each run but cumulatively could contribute to weight control and improved fitness."
You had me at "weight control". Maybe I'll jog to the cafe and celebrate with a zero-calorie cup of coffee.