We’ve all been there: when you don’t have time to shower, let alone exercise.
We tell ourselves tales: I exercise. I run around after my kids (sometimes with a baby attached to the bosom). I go up and down stairs with laundry. I clean the house.
Though any movement is great, are you getting your essential 150 minutes weekly of moderate to vigorous physical activity? Do you go to the gym, go for runs, get into your aerobic zone, do resistance training and work on your flexibility?
To put it simply: are you in shape?
Getting in shape can seem daunting, especially when you are a tired mom. It requires commitment and time that most of us don’t have. That’s not to say that you can’t do it – but there are days when it feels like an uphill battle. Being a mom is hard work.
Research shows that when parents are active their kids are active too. Two-thirds of Canadian adults aren’t getting the recommended amount of daily exercise of moderate to vigorous exercise each week.
I wrote about this in my last blog, but it bears repeating: Study after study shows that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity reduces your risk of stroke, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, hypertension, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and depression. It gives you more energy, helps you sleep better and you make better food choices. It is the most under-prescribed drug on the market and it is free.
If you are coming from a sedentary lifestyle, start small: commit to ten minutes of exercise, see how long it takes before that turns into 20. Ideally you should be doing a combination of cardio and strength training, and some form of stretching to keep muscles limber. Use the Rate of Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE) and get into a moderate or vigorous zone. Always check with your physician before you start any exercise program.
Here are a few ideas for getting fit:
- Walk with intervals: Walk at a comfortable pace for one minute, then push hard for one minute, walking quickly and moving your arms at your sides. Repeat. Add hills for extra intensity.
- While the kids are at the park, do squats, lunges and push-ups against a picnic table. The monkey bars are great for pull-ups.
- Use the stairs in your house: Run up and down them once, then walk down, see if you can run up them harder each time, using the down as recovery. Use the first two steps for lunges and tricep dips.
- Plank every day. Hold yourself on your forearms, feet extending behind you, your body in a long line. Pull your belly button in and, without holding your breath, tighten your stomach. You’re working out the inner lining of your abdominal wall.
The next time you decide you’re too tired to go to the gym, or feel guilty because you’ve been at work all day, or you work through lunch so you can make it home earlier, take the extra hour and think about whether you will be a better parent after you have exercised. If your partner can take care of the kids, bundle up and try winter running (hint: the answer is layers!) Or hire a sitter. Just make time for yourself.
Here are some great 10-minute programs to get you started: