In the daily life of a busy mom, exercise often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. The idea of finding time to exercise seems overwhelming, and who needs one more thing to feel guilty about? As a personal trainer who specializes in working with perinatal women (and a mother of three young children myself), I find that being realistic about the amount of time my clients can devote to exercise each day helps them set and achieve meaningful goals.
Mounting evidence indicates that exercise done in as little as 8-10 minute bouts, several times a day, contributes to better overall health. Once you start looking for these pockets of time, you’ll get better at taking advantage of them. Many of my clients have a hard time believing this, especially those who have been brainwashed by the old “hour-at-the-gym-or-it-doesn’t-count” way of thinking, but if you give this method of exercise a try, I think you’ll find an increase in your energy level.
Here are some exercise tips for busy moms to get you started:
Waiting for water to boil and dinner to cook? Turn your kitchen into a gym—do walking lunges across the floor, march in place, use the counter to do inclined push-ups, use a stool to support you while doing tricep dips, and do jumping jacks to raise your heart rate (they are also a good way to test your post-partum pelvic floor, too). Just keep moving until dinner is ready.
Dance party! No one is watching—turn on some music and dance! What a great way to expose your child to different types of music and the fun of moving your body.
If your child is old enough to sit in the bathtub unassisted, use this time for a simple exercise circuit: 40 jumping jacks, 20 pelvic tilt crunches, 10 squats, 5 pushups. Repeat the circuit for as long as your child stays in the bath. You are never out of arms-reach, and you can use this opportunity to tell your child why it’s important for you to exercise.
And, as with all things related to parenting, always remember the obvious: Put your baby in a stroller and go outside for a walk—the fresh air and change of scenery will likely do both of you some good. If it’s too cold or rainy to go outside, put your baby in a carrier and walk in the house. You may feel odd doing this at first, but if it helps to calm the baby and gets your heart rate up in a healthy way, go for it.
Remember, even a little movement several times a day is good for both your physical and mental health. You’re also setting a great example for your little one by taking time to care for yourself.