The Busy Parent’s Guide to Keeping Fit

Mother and baby doing yoga

Balancing a career, running a house, and looking after your children, can leave very little time for looking after yourself. As a parent, it is likely that keeping fit can be sacrificed for fast food dinners and falling asleep in front of the television; but there are ways to work around these habits. When you are on a busy schedule, exercise might be the furthest thing from your mind, but actually, a healthier lifestyle might be exactly what you need. Keeping up with your fitness is incredibly important, not just for your physical health, but also for your mental health. Keeping fit will also fill you with more energy, helping to provide you with the tools you need to keep up with your children. Here are a few tips which you might find helpful when trying to keep fit on a busy schedule.

Make yourself a priority

As a parent, you are always putting other people and tasks first: not just your kids, but all of your other responsibilities too! When you are barely getting a minute to yourself in the day, it can seem like an impossible task to fit in any extra luxuries, such as exercise.  However, for the sake of your health and wellbeing, it is important to stop seeing your own personal health as a luxury. In fact, taking care of yourself should be non-negotiable, because how are you supposed to look after other people, if you aren’t looking after yourself? Keeping fit isn’t just important for your physical health, such as increased metabolism and improved circulation, it is also important for your mental wellbeing, including your mood and concentration levels. Once you start to view giving yourself 20 minutes or more a day as a necessity, you will be more likely to find the time for it.  

Make a plan and commit

The more chaotic your lifestyle is, the greater the need to make a comprehensive plan of action. If your mornings are filled with cries of “Hurry up” and “I can’t find my shoes” then it’s probably time you got a little more organization in your life, both within the household and also in regards to your own personal schedule. Start by getting yourself a diary and filling in all of the daily tasks which you have to do each day, in the relevant time slots. Then fill in any events which are specific to each day and do this for at least the week ahead (of course, if you know any important events in advance, you can add those in too).

Once all of your important tasks have been filled, from the time you are getting up in the morning, to the time you go to sleep, you can then see where any gaps in your timetable lay and use them to make some time for yourself. Don’t forget, getting exercise doesn’t mean having to complete 30 minutes all in one go: you can break them up into suitable timeslots throughout the day. Plan ahead and think about what sorts of exercise you would like to do, and prepare the clothes and equipment you might need, beforehand. You should also try and stick to a dietary plan so that you can make sure you are getting all of the correct nutrients from your diet to keep you going. For example, have a look at the skinny fat diet plan.

Involve the whole family

If you tell your children that you want to go on a two-mile walk with them to get exercise, it’s safe to say that you can pretty much guarantee the resulting answer will be a resounding no. However, it is much easier to sell the idea of the whole family getting exercise, once you make the main goal spending time together and having fun. Bring up the idea of going on an after dinner walk to spend some time together in nature and make it a family tradition that your children will grow to look forward to. Alternatively, you can make being active fun by doing more exciting tasks, such as riding a bike, swimming, or dancing along to music. You can even make a game of it, by getting your children to compete for the title of the ‘best dance moves’ or by holding your very own family sports day once a month, with lots of appealing prizes on offer. As long as you are active together, then you will all get the exercise that you need to keep healthy.

Keep it simple

Exercising doesn’t have to involve doing an hour of intensive cardio and weight training at the gym every single day; sometimes, the best way to exercise is by keeping it simple. Often, people get bored of being active, because they are sick of doing the same activity every day. However, you can get all of the cardio and toning exercises you need, by turning up the energy you put into everyday tasks. For example, by walking the dog as a family, you are already getting the basic exercise for the day, and by adding in intervals of high intensity, such as running for a minute every five minutes, you can make a chore into a workout. Activities such as gardening are also great for keeping active, as although it is low intensity, it does improve arm strength (for example, when digging), and doing movements such as squatting to pull up weeds uses all of the muscles in the body; meaning these simple activities can give you all of the exercises you need for the day.

Make the most of each moment

If the worst comes to worst, and you find you absolutely cannot make the time to do some scheduled exercises during the day, then try and make the most of each moment which you do have and turn your daily activities into a workout in their own right. For example, when picking the kids up from school, instead of parking right outside, park a few blocks away, and walk around the meet, them, allowing yourself to get some fresh air, and a brisk walk. Another example would be exercising when cleaning the house, as you can do things such as lunges, squats and arm curls intermittently throughout.