The health benefits of exercise are enormous and well-documented, and most of you realize how much of a positive impact exercise could have on your life. The problem is finding the time to exercise—especially when you’re a busy mom. You’ll be juggling responsibilities including feeding and supervising children, maintaining the house, and managing a career all at the same time; the days fly by, and you barely have time to recover before another day starts.
So how on earth do busy moms find an hour a day (or more) to exercise? It’s definitely possible, and it should be one of your priorities. The trick is to figure out how to set and accomplish that priority.
Why Exercise Should Be a Priority
Let’s start by explaining why exercise should be a top priority in your life:
- Physical health benefits. To start, exercising helps keep your weight under control. You’ll be at a significantly reduced risk for conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and you’ll greatly increase your lifespan (assuming you remain consistent with your exercise). You’ll also be stronger and more resilient, helping you feel less exhausted by your daily responsibilities.
- Mental and emotional benefits. Even more importantly, exercise improves your mental health. You’ll reduce your stress levels, reduce your risk for anxiety and depression, and you’ll feel happier and more energetic throughout the day. You’ll even be able to sleep better, so you can double down on the benefits of a good night’s sleep.
Strategies for Finding Time to Exercise
So how can moms find the time to exercise? The first secret is knowing that you don’t have to go all-out; even 20 to 30 minutes of light to moderate activity is enough to see the benefits of exercise. These are just some ideas to help you get there:
- Walk with a stroller. If you can’t leave the baby with someone else, and you need to stay close to home, consider going out for a walk with the stroller; if you’re feeling ambitious, you could even go for a jog. Make it a habit by going at a consistent time every day, and soon you won’t be able to break it.
- Compress your exercise routine. Don’t pursue an exercise routine that takes more than an hour to complete; eventually, it will be too hard to fit in. Instead, work to compress your exercise routine into a smaller amount of time. Instead of doing low-intensity exercise for 60 minutes, do high-intensity exercise for 30 minutes, skipping extended rest periods and focusing on the exercises that give you the best results.
- Rely on calisthenics or invest in home equipment. Going to the gym can be one of the biggest hassles for new moms, so skip the gym altogether. Rely on calisthenics, which only require your body weight, to accomplish your routine in your own home. If you have the money and the interest, you could also invest in some home equipment to encourage you to work out more often (without a gym membership).
- Enlist the help of a partner or neighbor for a morning break. You could also ask your partner, a friend, a family member, or a neighbor to watch your child regularly for a period of time in the morning, such as 6 to 7, while you fit in your workout. Most people won’t mind the opportunity to have fun with your child.
- Commute via bike or on foot. If you have a job that requires you to leave the house, you could also make the simple transition to commuting via bike, or even on foot if you live close enough. Chances are, you’ll spend at least 30 minutes walking or biking every day this way, which isn’t much more than you’d spend sitting in your car in traffic. You’d also reduce your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the same time.
- Use a long lunch break for extra physical activity. If your job gives you a lunch break, take full advantage of it. Sneak in a few extra minutes, and turn your lunch break into an exercise hour. If you have time to go to the gym, this is a perfect opportunity; if not, even walking around the block at a moderate pace can be beneficial.
If you want to be at your healthiest and happiest, you need to exercise regularly. It’s not easy to fit everything in, but if you’re committed to making exercise a priority, you can make it work. After just a week or two of consistent exercise, you’ll start feeling less stressed, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll feel even happier to be a mom—no matter how busy you get.
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