There’s a lot to juggle when it comes to parenting. Hitting the gym for a workout quickly drops on the priority list when it comes to your children’s needs. Some simple fitness tips to help busy parents get back on track would surely be welcome, right?
It would. A 2014 study from the University of Pittsburgh concluded that new parents not only are less physically active than singles or married couples without children but also that they took a steeper, deeper fall into a sedentary lifestyle.
No matter how busy our schedules, it’s important we moms and dads remind ourselves that staying in shape doesn’t just benefit us. It benefits our children as well. Improving your health through regular exercise is one of the best ways to ensure you’re able to keep up with your active children (and their busy schedules) and able to be there for them for years to come.
Here are some fitness tips to help overwhelmed parents get on the healthy track:
Simple fitness tips for busy parents
1. A little exercise can go a long way, mom and dad
Starting a new exercise routine is daunting, especially if you haven’t been active in awhile. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged early on. People, parents or not, tend to try to do too much after doing too little for an extended period of time. The most important of these fitness tips, especially when starting out, is to focus on just doing SOMETHING:
- Go for a short walk.
- If you have stairs, make two trips up and down every time you use them instead of one.
- Try the “repetitive habit” trick. For example, do five pushups and five bodyweight squats every time you use the restroom throughout the workday.
It may not seem like much, but these little efforts will add up over time.
2. Strive for consistency — it’s an exercise “routine,” after all
One of the best ways for parents to build healthy habits is to set up a fitness routine that works for their schedule.
If you typically take lunch at the same time every day, plan for a short walk or jog during that time. If your schedule is more random, plan an exercise routine for your days off or free time.
Remember the core principle of the fitness tip above: You don’t have to do a lot to be effective. Small and consistent improvements over time will help you achieve your goals.
3. Focus on the now, not your past
Like many parents, I was extremely active for most of my life before having children. When I started refocusing on my personal fitness again, I was plagued with memories of what I used to be able to do. Don’t get weighed down with how much you once could bench, how far you used to run, or how many days a week you used to be able to exercise. Instead, focus on what you’re doing now, and what you can continue to do in the future. It may not be at the same level, but it can still be more than enough.
BONUS FITNESS TIP: Get the whole family involved
Fitness doesn’t have to be a solo journey. There are tons of activities that involve the entire family, such as hikes, bike riding or even just playing around in the backyard.
Even if your kids or spouse are not directly participating in the activity you are doing, they can still be a part of your fitness routine. If you exercise at home, set up a play space nearby where your children can hang out during your workout. If part of your workout is timed, teach your children to use a stopwatch to help you.
Overall, it helps to keep a clear focus on why fitness is important as a parent. It’ll help ensure you remain an active participant in your children’s lives for as long as possible.