Exercise tends to take a back seat to your family and all of the responsibilities that go along with being a mom. We just don’t seem to be able to find time or make time for self care because we are exhausted from sleepless nights with a newborn, from chasing a toddler around, or from driving our older children back and forth to practices and events. We all have a reason or an excuse. However, exercise can help to increase your energy level (sans caffeine), lose weight, improve your mood, cope with stress, and live a healthier lifestyle.
Here are some ideas on how to fit exercise into your life with children:
- Find an activity that you enjoy that works with your lifestyle and your schedule. If you are enjoying the activity, you will look forward to it rather than seeing it as another chore.
- Make exercise a part of your daily routine. There is always time for exercise in your day. Identify a time slot that works for you and commit to it. Whether it requires waking up earlier, skipping lunch at work to do 30 minutes of strength training, or going for a walk or a run in the evenings once the children are in bed, you can find the time if you make the effort.
- Invest in a jogger or a walking stroller. Take your small children with you. Bring toys, books, and a snack. Try to get your entire workout in without stopping for a break or to let you little one out of the stroller. Once you start the habit of letting them out, they will expect it. Get your full workout in.
- Start a caregiver exchange. Have your partner or friend keep an eye on your children for 30 minutes so you can get a walk or jog in. Return the favor.
- Wake up earlier. If you work outside the home, try getting up about an hour or so earlier to get your workout in before work. If you are a stay-at-home mom, get up before your partner leaves to get some exercise in.
- Keep your sneakers handy. Keep a pair in your car so that you can walk or jog laps around the soccer field or park during your child’s soccer practice. If your child is at dance or piano lessons, take a walk around the block. Bring your sneakers to work. On your lunch break, go for a stroll.
- Check out your local fitness centers, health clubs, or fitness studios. Some facilities now offer babysitting services. Some offer classes, such as Mommy and Me, which you can take with your child.
- Check out local stroller programs. There are mom and baby stroller exercise programs available. Check out Stroller Strides, Baby Boot Camp, or Stroller Fit. It is a great way to get out of the house and meet other moms.
- Invest in some equipment to use while your child is napping or playing. An exercise mat and some hand held weights can go a long way. Invest in some DVDs and workout at home. Create a DVD exchange with other moms to vary your workouts. Your local library may be a good resource for exercise videos as well.
- Use your Smartphone. There are so many free apps out there to help you get started and keep you moving. Use that phone for more than just talking!
- Most importantly, play with your kids. Shoot a basketball, kick around a soccer ball, go for a bike ride with your kids, or have races in your yard. Jog alongside your child as they ride their bike. When you bring you children to the playground, don’t just sit and watch, play! You will be leading by example and showing your children the importance of being fit and healthy.
Guest Blogger Jennifer Bayliss, MSEd, ATC, CSCS, is Manager of Fitness for Everyday Health and its Calorie Counter available at my-calorie-counter.com.