Moms need exercise is Part IV of the What Moms Need Most series. Find the intro with links to all posts in the series here.
Hey Mom: I’m looking at you. Yes you, the one who is overwhelmed with kids and work and bills and a home. You, who feel stretched and strained and so very tired. And you — the one who hates exercise? I’m especially talking to you. Let me say it as gently, lovingly, and big-sister-like as I can:
YOU NEED EXERCISE!!!
Yes, you do.
This isn’t about your weight. Though adding regular exercise to your life is likely to assist you in losing weight (if that is a goal), experts suggest weight loss is much more about diet than exercise.
So…if exercise will not magically make us shed pounds, WHY should we rearrange our schedules to fit it in? What is so important about exercise?
Friends: There is no doubt, God created us to move: Our heart, lungs, and every organ in our body benefits from exercise. Regular exercise will bless us with better posture, toned muscles, and a body that is much more likely to hang in there with us well into old age. Exercise improves our sex life, helps us through menstrual cycles (and menopause!) and is the very best form of stress relief. But wait, there’s more: I am 100% positive that I am the most creative when I exercise: I get my best writing ideas, relationship insight, recipe brainstorms, and a general feeling of strength and positivity. There’s science behind this: When we workout, endorphins are released. These “feel-good” chemicals flood our brain and body and their effect lingers well after our workout.
Exercise is good for us in every season — maybe especially in the season of motherhood.
YET: When I asked women online about what part of self – care was the hardest for them during the parenting years, the response I got the most was by far: EXERCISE. And I know…it can be really hard.
So, as I always like to do — let’s start with a quiet dose of PERSPECTIVE on this topic.
Then, we’ll get practical. 🙂
PERSPECTIVE: If you are in a season in which exercise truly cannot fit into your day: It’s OK. That season will not last forever. I’m still going to try to convince you to find creative ways to fit in even short bursts of exercise throughout the day — but if you just….can….not? It’s really, truly ok.
ALSO: If you have young kids, a husband who isn’t home much, or a side hustle (or two) to help keep food on the table, then your workouts will probably not look at all like you wish they could. If in the past you’ve been blessed with seasons of long walks, hours at a gym, or any other leisurely fitness routine — be glad you had that. Savor the memory. But then move on: Most motherhood seasons just don’t look like that.
ME: Currently, I have a very simple (read: pretty boring) workout routine. I do ONLY what I can do in my own home (garage) or on the roads that I take straight out my front door. But I really don’t mind it. Though there are some options in a reasonable distance from my home, I just don’t feel like this is my season to add driving time or more commitment than the 20-40 minutes it takes me to do what I do now. I get out at least 3 days a week, and most often 4. And what do I do? I walk/jog 3-4 miles. I try to stretch. Sometimes I do core work on my big ball and floor mat. I’m on my 2nd year of shoulder problems (we won’t go into that right now 😉 ) so my arms which used to be strong and toned have grown weaker. (wahhh) But I have perspective. I’ll get it all back!! (Or maybe some 50-year old version of what I used to have. haha.)
**find post about my perspectives on diet in the previous post in this series, here.
So, what I’m trying to say is… if your workouts aren’t exciting? That’s ok. If you’re not sweating on the regular? Really, no sweat. If your workouts are lacking or just lame in this season? This too shall pass…
NOW FOR SOME PRACTICAL IDEAS:
Keep in mind that adding ANY amount of exercise to your day is beneficial. A few options when kids are young or time is short:
Home workouts or videos are available on so many apps and platforms!! You can chose cardio routines, dance, resistance, stretching/yoga, and on and on.
I asked my Facebook community about their favorite apps and got 48 comments…(Check out the whole list here.) But a few that came up the very most… OpenFit, the SweatApp, Fitness Blender, Revelation Wellness, Fit2B, extend Barre, Aaptiv, Peloton App, Beach Body on Demand. (Feel free to share your favorite app in comments below!)
Walking/Running: If you can get out for a ten minute brisk walk, it will affect your body and your mind. When possible, pick up the pace. And go longer. Those mood-altering endorphins will begin to flow most when you huff and puff. A slow walk may be fine to start with (and if you’re obese or haven’t worked out in years, this is definitely the best way to start) but a more vigorous workout will offer the most bang for your endorphin-buck.
If walking is easy, try running. I’m such a fan of walking/running because I think it is the easiest, free workout that you can do literally anywhere, any time of the year. (you should invest in decent sneakers however!) You can run when you travel. You can run in the summer (early mornings are best) and in the winter (bundle up!) You can run alone, or with a friend (so fun!) Young and old alike can run (or at least walk!) Running builds your muscles, clears your mind, and refreshes your soul. And though it may take a few months to form the habit, I believe most people in decent health can grow to love running. I dare you to try it!
Getting those muscles toned: 5-10 minutes of simple hand-weight or band exercises, if done consistently over time, will absolutely begin to shape your body. Walking lunges, standing squats, bicep and tricep curls, and simple straight -arm raises with a couple pound weight or band (for shoulders) will strengthen you to do tasks of daily living and feel empowered as you grow older. Again, a good app will add an instructor and some music and time will fly while you get strong and fit!
GYM Workouts!? Honestly, I love (and miss!) going to a gym! My boys grew up going to a local gym with me a few days a week. I taught classes so the bonus was not only did I get paid to exercise, but childcare was free! (woohoo!) If you like to teach fitness, this is a great thing to consider! But many gyms have reasonably priced memberships and childcare is a worthwhile investment in my sanity-loving opinion. I remember the thrill of taking a hot shower after a workout while the kids played in the Kids’ Club, and leaving the gym feeling like a new woman.
Family Workouts: Though it may not be your *ideal workout*, there is a LOT you can do with your kids! Whether you put them in a front or backpack, push a jogger or stroller, or let them ride their bikes alongside you, there is almost always a way to take your kids out for some exercise. Your family can have fun doing group workouts in the garage, or create competitions in the living room. Remember that every bit of moving counts!
Side benefit: When your kids see you make your health priority, they will be much more likely to follow suit. Maybe this is the year that exercise can become part of your family’s normal flow. It’s up to you.
Finding time to exercise? I suggest you talk to your husband about how you might make this a priority. You might have to get creative. Swap kids with a neighbor and take turns getting your workouts in. Beg your mom or sister to help, or hire a sitter for an hour 3 times a week! Are your kids safe to watch a video while you bounce around in your living room? Can you use their nap time to get on the floor and crank out some ab work? Maybe you could set that alarm clock for an hour earlier…? Some moms love to get a workout in after kids go to bed.
BOTTOM LINE: Friends, regular exercise is so important. Make it a part of WHO YOU ARE. Be proactive. Get creative. And find all kinds of benefits along the way!
Let’s talk more in comments! What have you done to stay fit in the busy season of parenting? What is your biggest challenge? Got any great tips, tricks, or an app to share? Let’s inspire one another!
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My book, BOY MOM, was released in August of 2019 (Waterbrook Multnomah Publishers) and is full of practical advice and helpful resources for raising boys. It’s a great study for small groups!