Spring is finally here (thank goodness!), and that means no more winter excuses for no exercise. The weather is warmer, the days are longer, and it truly is the perfect time of year to get up and get moving.
Even though you’re a busy mom. Especially if you’re a busy mom.
I’m guessing you think you don’t have time to exercise. You may think it’s just not a priority at this stage of your life. But I want to encourage you to believe that you do have time – and that it is a priority. Here’s how you can make time for exercise – even when you don’t have time:
Recognize the benefits for moms
You know that exercise is great for your long-term health, that it helps prevent diabetes, lower blood pressure and even reduce the risk of some types of cancer. But it also does things you need right now (as in, today!), like reducing stress and increasing energy. Studies have shown over and over that people who exercise regularly are better able to manage their stress and anxiety. They have a more positive outlook and are able to think and concentrate better. And they have more energy. Yes, somewhat inexplicably, those who exercise regularly actually feel more energetic – they sleep better, feel better, and have more energy to make it through each day.
Let go of the excuses
Let’s be honest. In most cases, you’re not “too busy” to exercise. And you’re not “too tired” to exercise. (If you are, you need to make some changes.) You’re not going to exercise “tomorrow.” Rather, you’re busy and decide not to exercise. You’re tired and decide not to exercise. You don’t want to exercise today, so you put it off until another day. I know that sounds harsh, but here’s why I’m being so blunt – your body, mind and spirit need and deserve all of the good things that happen when you start to exercise regularly. You need and deserve to feel less stressed and more energetic. You need to feel stronger and more toned. You need to feel the power that comes from taking charge of your body and making it do the things you want it to do. Yes, mom, you deserve it! And very few things on your to-do list are more important or will give you a better return on your investment.
Rethink your definition of “exercise”
When you hear the word “exercise,” what comes to mind? A trip to the gym, a spin class, a 10-mile run? If so, it’s time to rethink your definition. For most busy moms, those forms of exercise aren’t practical, at least not on a regular basis. And for moms who haven’t been exercising regularly, they’re too intense. So expand your definition of “exercise” to include the things that experts refer to as “physical activity” – anything that gets your body up and moving. It can include taking a brisk walk with a friend, playing soccer with the kids, dancing with your husband, working out with a video, and just about anything else that gets your body, muscles and heart rate working.
Work it into your normal routine
Going to the gym or exercise classes just won’t work for many moms. Instead, you need a workout plan that fits your schedule, a way to fit exercise into the “nooks and crannies” of your day. And the easiest way to do that is by turning sitting time into moving time. So, for example, instead of sitting on the bleachers during soccer practice, get up and walk. Walk by yourself to get some much-needed alone time, or walk with other moms and chat. The same applies to other sports practices, visits to the playground, and other times when you’re waiting for your kids. Don’t sit and watch – get up and move! Another easy way to add exercise to your life is to plan activities that involve movement – riding bikes with your kids, taking a family hike, going for a walk after dinner with your husband, walking and talking with a work colleague. Also, plan some organized exercise that works with your schedule – exercise at home with a video (you can find thousands of them free online), jog while your kids ride bikes, do vigorous yard work or household tasks, or make use of whatever exercise equipment you have on hand. (Our treadmill is a lifesaver – I use it almost every day.)
Make it easy
Finally, do everything you can to make exercise or physical activity the easy choice. Put your workout shoes and clothes together in one place so you don’t have to search for them. Keep an extra pair of walking shoes in your car or at work. (I bought an inexpensive pair to keep in my office.) Find several exercise videos online and bookmark them so you can find them easily. Gather up all of your hand weights, exercise bands, DVDs, and other gear and put them where you can grab them easily (a bin or basket is ideal). Keep bottled water in your car. Do whatever it takes to make getting ready to exercise and getting started as simple as possible.
Finding time for exercise and fitting it into your busy schedule is hard for moms. But it’s worth the effort, because it pays you back in so many ways. So use the transition to spring and warmer weather as a reason to get started. I think you’ll be glad you did.
(The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans say that most adults can engage in moderate physical activity safely. If you have a significant health problem, or any questions about whether you can exercise safely, consult your doctor before starting an exercise program.)
How do you fit exercise into your life?