I have found that carrying around small children, up to age 5 or so, rather than putting them in a stroller, is a tremendous workout! You can put them in your hands, on your side, on your back, etc. Even two at a time. Needless to say, the kids love it! I suspect that the health benefits are enormous ("Lifting Heavy Things"), especially when carried over significant distances. Different baby-holders may or may not be used. Can anyone comment?
I'd second the benefits to the baby. I carried both of mine in a sling from birth in the shawl type one which they lie in at first but very soon sit on your hip. One of the main benefits of this is that they are at almost head height which means that they are involved - watching, listening, etc in everything you do. In fact I found many people talked to baby instead of me! They don't get that flat head/bald patch that babies that lie in prams and cots get. They experience constantly changing motion which also stimulates their brains and bodies. They are not afraid of heights, sudden movements and so on because they experience them whilst literally attached to their 'safe' person. They have to hold their heads up and, in the case of the hip sling, themselves up. Both my kids have excellent musculature and posture which I attribute to this.
Don't forget that there are probably health benefits for the kids, too. We didn't own a stroller when our kids were young. We used a sling and a front-pack when they were infants and a back-pack when they were older. (Occasionally, we'd use a wagon - not very paleo. :-) )
I'm not a parent, but I'm a "do things using fewer tools" person. For example, I take the stairs instead of the elevator, physically pull on door handles instead of using automatic door openers, etc. I feel smug and righteous ;) and I'm certainly fitter, but I know transporting kids in our busy culture can be a hassle. I recently saw somebody pushing their kid in a stroller and I wondered, from my paleo perspective: a) how much fitter would parents be if they carried their kids? b) how much fitter would kids be if they walked instead of being pushed in strollers? c) at what age/size/weight does it make it impractical to carry a kid vs. how far can a kid walk and when are they able to keep up fairly well? In other words, how did paleo parents deal with the little kids too big to carry and too little to walk very far?
It's probably the most natural workout ever.
Women used to carry their kids all the time back in the days. That's why women were stronger back in the days. For example, my grand mother has a really strong grip and she can beat most of the family at arm wrestling. She did little exercise except for carrying her children.
Actually it's similar to how a construction worker get muscular and stronger without actually training for it. Constant resistance force the nervous system to adapt to the stress produced.
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