How Busy Moms Find Time To Stay Fighting Fit
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How busy moms stay fit with these 4 strategies.
Guest post by Jennifer Kitson.
Around eight in 10 adults say that women face significant pressure to be an involved parent, which is interesting considering that in this day and age, women make up nearly half the U.S. workforce. This pressure, combined with tough work hours, can sometimes cause us to neglect a vital component of family happiness: our own health and wellbeing.
Add to this the fact that one in four moms are raising their children on their own and it becomes easy to see how so-called ‘luxuries’ which are actually necessities (like getting enough exercise every day) can plummet to the bottom of the priority list. If one thing is clear when it comes to exercise, it is that perfectionism has little place in a busy lifestyle. That is, if you can only get in three days for a run, spin lesson, or visit to the gym, grab it!
Even if you can’t get away for an exercise session every day, regular exercise will help you physically, mentally, and even spiritually. There are many ways that you can make the most of the little time you have to stay fit and fabulous. Here’s how busy moms stay fit.
What are the barriers to regular exercise?
A study at Kansas State University has found that moms and dads face identical barriers to exercise. These include family responsibilities, guilt, lack of support, lack of time, and scheduling.
Clearly, you have to be realistic if you are to find actual time for physical fitness. For instance, have you really asked the people in your family or friends to lend a hand? Is there any way you can exchange favors with a trusted neighbor so that you can fit in at least a couple of good workouts a week? Can you talk with your boss or work flexible times, working a bit later on some days so you can ‘escape’ during your lunch hour to exercise on slower days?
It is simply impossible to comply with too many obligations. This means you need to think creatively and physically make more time by relying on the help of others and seeking support at work.
Dropping the superhero pressure
In her book Motherhood is a B#tch! 10 Steps to Regaining Your Sanity, Sexiness, and Inner Diva, entrepreneur Lyss Stern notes that it is easy to hit rock bottom when you are a busy parent who stops making time for yourself. She notes that “We all need to let go of whatever that perfect image is in our heads and be content and happy with who we are.”
This may mean foregoing the long cook-off to sneak out and do a Spin class or saying no to an extracurricular activity for your kids if they are already in little league, dance class, and swimming, so that you can take time off once or twice a week to get in shape.
Enriching our own lives makes it easier to bring our best, most ‘present’ self to our kids – which can be hard to do if we feel like we are giving everyone else too much of ourselves.
Finding the right workout
Both aerobic and strength workouts are prescribed for better fitness and strength. The way you go about achieving your daily recommended exercise, however, is subject to a lot of flexibility. You don’t need a full gym membership to achieve your targets. A basic weights set (including free weights and a bar for chest presses for instance) will suffice and can easily be stored at home.
If you have a gap between when you finish work and the kids get home, use it for a short but intense strength workout. There are many exercises you can do without a gym membership and even without weights. For instance, arm circles, tricep dips, and push-ups can be performed just about everywhere, even at the office. For the legs, simple lunges and calf raises can be practiced with books or light weights, as can box jumps or single leg hip raises.
In 15 to 20 minutes you can work up quite a sweat, so don’t knock the benefits of a home workout. To meet your aerobic workout targets, go for a brisk walk or run, complete a Zumba or other aerobic workout at home, or run up and down flights of steps during your lunch break at work.
Making time for stress relief
Stress is a killer, not only in the way that it affects our heart and other organ health, but in its ability to wrest from our motivation to stay fit and active. If you have a very high-stress job or you are undergoing a tough time in your personal life, taking a proactive approach is key.
Even if you have 10 minutes in your car or during your commute to work, download a breathing app. Controlled breathing has immediate benefits on stress and anxiety; for instance, it immediately drops your heart rate, which is great if you are feeling a bit of panic as you rush to work.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. If you’re strapped for time, opt for a high-intensity training session like CrossFit, many exercises from which you can perform at home or outdoors. Ensure you also complete twice-weekly strength training sessions, investing a small amount of money in weights for home use.
Finally, take a realistic approach to exercise, rewarding yourself for what you have accomplished rather than chastising yourself if you fail to meet your weekly exercise targets. Every bit counts, especially when time is precious.
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