Updated: Mar 30, 2021
As parents one of the biggest roadblocks we have around exercising is time and it is a very valid reason. When little people come along things change and the 'busy' life has the power to take over if you let it and any exercise you may have once enjoyed, now may not feature as a priority. No matter what stage of parenthood you find yourself in, there is always something keeping you busy. From the early days forever changing nappies and feeding, to being a teenager’s chauffer. It can be non-stop.
Exercise plays a vital role in not only our physical health but our emotional well-being too. When we exercise our brain releases endorphins which boosts our mood and with the increase of our heart rate provides us with more energy. Scheduling in some time to get moving, even if it is just for 10 minutes, will have a myriad of benefits for your body and mind resulting in a happier, healthier family.
Here are my top 10 tips to get you re-thinking your schedule to include more exercise into your day:
Playtime & exercise combo – when you plan your next visit to the park, think ahead. Wear your trainers, take the scooter or bike and jog alongside. Take a ball to play soccer or basketball, play fun games together like tag. You could even pop some resistance bands in your bag and while the kids are on the playground, do some training yourself (if your eyes are still on the kiddies of course).
Running pram – there are so many on the market ranging in price depending how much of an avid runner you are. If you start making this as part of your routine from an early age the children will be much more accustomed to it. Plan a route where there is something halfway for the children, maybe a lake where you can feed the ducks along the way. You can always have pit stops to do some strength exercises (or rest) and let the little one out of the pram for a run around before strapping them back in again.
Gym with childminding – if you can find a good one this is a fantastic way to have an hour to yourself. As much as this can cause feelings of guilt for having this time apart from your children, try to think about it in a different way - focus on the feeling you get from exercising. Your child will have a happy, motivated parent, with a clear head ready to spend some quality time together. By exercising you are being a great role model because you will be the best version of yourself.
Online memberships – with the recent outbreak of COVID many fitness businesses were forced to pivot and take their businesses online. This has been a positive step for many and has made fitness professionals develop something they may have never considered before or had the courage to do. There are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to online programs, think about what you would like to get from it and choose wisely, remember bigger doesn’t always mean better. Finding one with a coach that is contactable for support and advice would be a great choice. Having this personal connection is what differs from the apps, you get a real person and you would also be potentially supporting a small business.
Tag team with the other half – we can be like passing ships in the night for a lot of daily duties. Exercising can be one of those occasions too. On a weekend or a time when you are both around agree to take 1-2 hours out of the day where you both take it in turns to exercise. Imagine how much fun your family will have after that!
TV & Phone time – I know I know; you feel like you have been running around all day and all you feel like doing is relaxing on the couch. Why not try instead sitting on the floor and stretching at the same time as watching your favourite show. Whether it’s your go to yoga pose or some mobility your physio has prescribed, make the most of this time. Additionally, next time you find yourself sitting down to chat on your phone, have a walk around the house or office and get those steps up.
Housework & working out – Let’s be honest housework, daily chores and doing parenting tasks can sometimes be a workout in themselves and could certainly give HIIT a run for its money! Well why not pick it up a notch and add some squats in while hanging the washing out or do some calve raises while cooking dinner. For the keen houseworker you could get some ankle or wrist weighted straps to fasten on and that adds another level of intensity!
Working parent? - Don’t forget to take your gym gear and runners for a snappy 20-minute run or power walk on your lunch break. You could source a nearby gym or swimming pool and make use of these facilities. Why not rope in a colleague to come along too for accountability. If you find yourself travelling for work, pack your active wear and get up early before you start to use the hotel gym, go for a jog, or even have a workout in your room.
Specialised mum classes – with the awareness spreading about safe return to exercise after having a baby, thankfully there are more specialised trainers. (Always ask if your trainer is accredited in this area). With many of these groups you can take your baby along or some have nanny service (winning)! It’s a great way to not only exercise but meet other mums, socialise, and form lifelong friendships. The babies grow up together, so they bond too. Think of it as an active mothers’ group!
Small habits = big changes – Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are our habits
For our habits to take hold we need to keep practising the same task a number of times. (That’s a whole new article right there) so when starting something new, try not to get carried away. Choose one or two things you’d like to implement into your daily life and keep going, working on those same habits. If we set our expectation low enough so they are achievable but not so high we fail to reach them, we will never be disappointed. It might be as simple as taking the stairs at work every day instead of the lift, or parking further away from the entrance to the shops each time you are getting groceries.
Rachel specialises in helping women return to exercise safely and effectively after having a child, which can range from weeks to years postnatal she is also Mum to a 4 year old daughter.
When becoming a mum, Rachel realised there was little awareness on the subject of postnatal exercise, so she made it her mission to educate women so they can make informed choices for their own body from pregnancy and beyond.
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