Life is busy and intense for parents, especially when their children are very young. If you are a parent, you might find yourself feeling tired, overwhelmed, and as though you do not have any time for yourself. However, self-care is vital. You can only give your children the best of you if you are also able to look after yourself.
One of the most common motivations parents cite for improving their health and fitness is wanting to keep up with their kids. We spoke to some experts to get tips on how you can do exactly that.
Fit Activity Into Small Windows of Time
You might not be able to find an hour a day to go to the gym while your children are small. But you don’t have to. If you pay attention, you will see that there are small moments throughout your day when you can fit in activity.
Beth Davies, a personal trainer who works with parents, says, “the kitchen work surface makes an awesome place for incline press-ups, supported lunges, and dynamic squats. Plus you can fit some reps in while you boil the kettle!”
Swap the Gym for Home Workouts
Exercising outside the home might be difficult for you when you’ve got young children. Fortunately, there are now countless home workouts to choose from, all of which can be done from the comfort of your living room. Many of them are freely available online.
Vicki Cumberworth is a personal trainer who runs a membership-based fitness site for women. “Home workouts are a revelation for busy parents—no childcare needed, no obstacles such as partners coming home late, and with the added bonus that the kids get to see you training which will in turn influence them to do the same,” says Cumberworth.
Track Your Steps
“Don’t underestimate the power of walking in staying active,” says Beth. What matters is that you’re moving, and walking counts. Get a pedometer or fitness tracker and try to build up until you’re walking at least 10,000 steps per day.
Taking the kids to the park, running around after them while they play at home, or even doing the weekly grocery shop will all increase your step count.
Work out in the Morning
Candice Quinn, a mom of two and former athletic trainer and physiotherapist, recommends exercising first thing in the morning if possible. “There are always things that don’t go to plan with kids and often the first thing that gets pushed to the side is a planned workout,” she says.
Working out first thing in the morning gives you a sense of accomplishment and the physical and mental health benefits of exercise as you move into the rest of your day.
Focus on “Bang for your Buck” Workouts
When you have a limited amount of time, making every moment count really matters. Therefore, focus on workouts that give you the most benefit in the shortest amount of time. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is great for anyone looking for a short, sharp workout that will get your heart racing and boost your cardiovascular fitness.
“Big muscle group workouts get optimal results in short spaces of time,” says Vicki. “Resistance training using weights or a kettlebell will not only get you stronger but fitter, too, and provide longevity for your joints and physical health.”
Keep it Interesting
The best workouts are the ones you will actually do. If you find yourself dreading your workout or getting bored, it’s time to change things up and try some new exercises.
Lauren Chiren, a qualified personal trainer and mom of a teenager, offers a few suggestions: “Switch out the gym for the park, create mini obstacle courses, build circuits at home, add different challenges!”
Trying something new will keep your mind engaged and your body working hard.
Remember Your Reasons
Your reasons for keeping fit and healthy are very personal. They won’t necessarily be the same as anyone else’s. But when you’re struggling to find energy and motivation, keeping your “why” front and center in your mind can help.
Suzanne Samaka, a mom of two and founder of the #HonestyAboutEditing mental wellbeing campaign, says that her reasons for working out have changed since having her children. “I now exercise much more for my headspace, rather than trying to change my body,” she says. “I have a newfound appreciation of my body since having children.”
Whether you want to be able to play with your children, be a good influence to encourage them to live a healthy lifestyle, or simply maintain your mental health, remind yourself of all those great reasons to work out when your motivation dips.
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