By Katherine Gutwald, RD
As a mom of three, I understand how challenging it can be to maintain an exercise routine. Finding time for a shower can seem tough, let alone finding an hour or more for your favorite physical activity or class. Whether you’re working or full-time parenting, “me time” is rarely on the top of your to-do list.
However, finding ways to get active even in the busiest of times is important for your physical and mental health. Many parents agree that regular physical activity improves their mood and causes them to be more patient with their families.
Here are a few tips for all of you busy parents looking to incorporate exercise into your daily life:
Make it family fun: Too often we think that exercise needs to be done at a gym away from our families, but it might not be realistic to carve out the time (or budget!) for regular visits to a fitness club. Instead, try including your children in your workouts. Pop in a Pilates, boot camp or Zumba video and do it together as a family. This prevents you from having to choose between spending time with your kids and getting your workout in. Plus, you reinforce the importance of physical activity early on, implementing healthy habits that your kids can carry with them throughout their lives.
Walk it out: Family walks are a great way to get moving and spend quality time together. If any of your usual destinations (school, daycare, the store, a family member’s house) are close by, choose to hoof it instead of hopping in the car. Bring the stroller or let your kids ride their bikes alongside you. Adding weighted wristbands or anklebands can be a great way to increase the challenge.
Be efficient: Between house chores, dance classes, soccer practice and meals, going for an hour-long run might be out of the question. But what about 15 minutes? There are plenty of super short, yet highly effective, calorie-torching workouts available online. Squeezing in one, maybe even two a day can make all the difference.
Make a gym: You don’t need a home gym or expensive equipment to get a dynamic work out—you can make a gym anywhere out of ordinary objects and spaces. Use a sturdy household chair for step-ups or leg extensions, or bring your kids to the park and do jungle gym pullups or triceps dips on a bench. There are endless possibilities!
Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself! Some days it might be easy to fit in some physical activity, other days it might be completely impossible. But getting in the habit of incorporating movement into your routine will pay off—for you and your family!
Katie is a registered dietitian with experience educating people about nutrition throughout the life cycle, including childhood, pregnancy and adulthood. She has a passion for healthy eating, active living and creating a good balance. She and her husband are busy parents to three kids.