Five exercising tips for busy parents

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Mother stretching on the carpet in front of sofa, next to her child who is playing with toys showing exercising tips for busy parents
Photo by Vitaly Gariev on Unsplash

When life is full-on as a parent it can feel like there’s little time to do anything for ourselves. But making time to look after ourselves is key if we want to keep up with the kids and be present.

For me, exercise is a key part of looking after myself, but I struggle with it the most. I never seem to have time when I’ve got the energy and when I have the energy, I don’t have time. But I’m determined to start (and keep up) with an exercise routine that gives me the right balance and is something I enjoy.

So, I was really pleased when Becky agreed to write this article as it’s full of practical tips to get those of us who struggle to exercise regularly, back on track.

Becky is an occupational therapist and personal trainer based in South Wales. She’s passionate about making exercise accessible to everyone and since becoming a mother last year, she’s on a mission to support busy parents to find time to exercise.

She believes everyone should be able to reap the benefits of exercise and that moving our bodies should be an enjoyable and sustainable part of our lives. You can follow Becky on Instagram.

Exercising tips for busy parents. Photo of Becky who is a personal trainer
Becky Davies

The importance of regular exercise

Exercise is incredibly beneficial for everyone physically and mentally. It has been proven to increase life expectancy, energy levels, bone density and improve balance (which can reduce the risk of falls), cardiovascular health, enhance cognitive function, and so much more! 

Physical exercise that is specifically designed for children can increase self-esteem and confidence, improve sleep patterns, concentration, cardiovascular fitness, and balance as well as help with relaxation, and other benefits. 

However, exercising as a parent, regardless of the age of your child or children, is challenging. Just when you think you’ve got into an exercise routine, your child starts a new after-school activity, starts sleeping terribly, gets a cold or something else changes and suddenly it’s a case of re-adjusting… again! 

We can all benefit from prioritising exercise, so here are my top tips for finding time to move your body and fit it into your busy life. 

Adjust your expectations

Maybe you think exercise only counts if you work out for an hour, 5 times a week. But that isn’t the case. Any sort of purposeful movement counts, even if it’s only 10 minutes or you have to pause frequently to get a new toy out for your child!

Workouts at home count, walking to dog counts, squats with your child on your back count! Try to make exercise fit your current circumstances and don’t beat yourself up if your new exercise routine looks different to the one you had pre-kids.

Schedule exercise into your week

That might mean planning to go for a walk or run whilst your child is at a swimming lesson or immediately after nursery/school drop-off. It might mean doing a 20-minute home workout whilst your baby naps or booking onto a mum & baby workout class.

Whatever it is and however tight you are on time, schedule it in, even if it’s only 10 minutes. That being said, if something makes your session unachievable, draw a line under it and try again at your next ‘scheduled’ session. 

Get your kids involved

It’s great for kids to see us prioritising exercise so get them involved. Let them ride their bike alongside you as you run, or get them involved in your home workouts. Make it fun and playful!

If they don’t want to join in your home workouts, set up some activities or play stations to keep them occupied in the room with you while you exercise. The more frequently they see you moving your body, the more likely they are to want to get involved. 

Exercising tips for busy parents: Start small

If you’re trying to make regular exercise a habit, start with three minutes a day. People often think that length of time is pointless. But it’s what those three minutes will grow to be that is important.

It helps you form the habit which means that as weeks go on, those three minutes can build to five, seven, 10, and so on. 

Consistency is key

Exercising once a week every week for a year is always going to be better than exercising five times a week for three weeks of the year! Find a form and frequency of movement that is sustainable for you, and stick with it.

If you miss a week of workouts, indulge on holiday, or get sick for a few weeks, don’t give up or beat yourself up. Just pick up where you left off. Consistency = Perfection. 

    The one thing I really hope you take away from this blog is that something is always better than nothing, and consistently moving your body in some way, shape, or form will always be beneficial. Finding time to exercise when you have children is hard and it will feel like a juggle. But I promise the pros will always outweigh the cons. 

    Exercising tips for busy parents. Group of adults and older children exercising outdoors with an instructor
    Photo by Gabin Vallet on Unsplash

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