Finding Time to Exercise
As parents, it is often challenging to find time to exercise between making lunches, after-school activities and bedtime. While we know that taking time to take care of ourselves is important, it is often hard to find the time.
“I always tell parents that they need to make an exercise plan because if it is not planned, then it is probably not going to happen. There are 100 other things that need to be done, and they are usually ‘louder’ than taking care of themselves,” says Carrie Schlegel, Raleigh mom of three and a certified personal trainer.
Since North Carolina has the fifth worst childhood obesity ranking in the country, and 67 percent of adults in North Carolina are obese, it is important to make exercise a priority in your family. While many parents go for a run with their children in a jogging stroller or put their kids in child care at a gym, there are several other ways for busy parents to find time to exercise.
Trade with a friend or spouse
Many parents find that exercising in the morning before everyone in the family is awake is a great way to start the day. Another option is to work out in the evening or on the weekend while your spouse watches the kids. For the Sheffields, a Raleigh couple, Allen exercises in the evening and Kellie will work out in the morning while her daughters are in school. She takes the youngest to the child care at the gym.
If you are at home during the day with your kids, consider trading off with a friend so that one person watches the children while the other works out. You can also head to the park with your friend and take turns exercising while the other person watches the kids play.
Find hidden time in your day
If you work outside the home, consider using your lunch hour to exercise during the week either at a nearby gym or by heading outside for a brisk walk. If you are at home during the day
and your children still nap, pop in an exercise video while they sleep.
If your kids play sports, take a walk or run around the field while they are practicing. This way you can get in some exercise while watching them practice.
Schlegel suggests taking along a flexible band when you head to the park with your kids so you can work out. She suggests wrapping the band around a park bench to do bicep curls and lateral flys. Then use the bench for step-ups and triceps dips. You can also do squats and lunges while your children play.
Schlegel says integrating short periods of exercise into your daily routine can add up, such as doing squats while blowing your hair dry and running up and down the stairs while your children brush their teeth.
Exercise with your kids
One of the best ways to find time workout is to exercise as a family. Kellie and Allen Sheffield, like to take their three children, who are all younger than 6, hiking at Durant Nature Park in Raleigh, Umstead State Park in Raleigh and Occoneechee Mountain near Hillsborough.
“Never assume that your kids are too young to do the things that you like to do,” Sheffield says.
The Sheffields take a special snack to enjoy as a family when they reach their destination, and each child gets a snack to eat at a spot of his or her choosing along the way. One of the ways that they keep their children interested is by giving them “jobs” during the hike; the 6-year-old is in charge of locating the trail markers and the 4-year-old looks for wildlife.
Another idea that incorporates your children into your exercise routine is to have them ride a bicycle while you jog or walk briskly. Start with a short distance to teach your kids how to stay with you. Older children can run or walk with you. Many parents find that training for and running a 5K as a family is a great way to bond over a common goal and stay fit.
Kim Sulman, group fitness director at the downtown Durham YMCA and mom of two children, suggests that parents of middle school children attend a yoga or cardio class together or begin strength training together. The downtown Durham branch also offers monthly parent-child fitness get-togethers for parents of preschool-age children.
Other easy ways to exercise with your children is to play freeze tag, jump rope or play soccer. Sulman also suggests creating an obstacle course outside with items such as hula hoops, wood pieces and jump ropes.
One of Sulman’s favorite ways to incorporate exercise into her family’s daily routine is to write various exercises, such as 10 pushups or run up the stairs three times, on sticky notes and have her children put them around the house. Every time family members pass a sticky note, including the kids, they must do the prescribed exercise.
“Make staying fit fun and do it together as a family. It shouldn’t be just exercise, but life,” Sulman says.
Jennifer Gregory lives in the Triangle with her husband, two kids and three dogs. Most mornings she heads out for a jog before work.
Sneak Exercise Into Your Daily Routine
Carrie Schlegel, personal trainer, created the following exercise plan for busy parents. She recommends adding these activities to regular cardio, or aerobic, exercise.
* Do 10 push-ups before you brush your teeth and another 10 after you’re done.
* Do 20 squats while you blow dry your hair.
* Use 10-pound weights to do two sets of 10 bicep curls and 10 overhead presses while waiting for the water to get warm in the shower.
* Do 100 crunches after putting the kids to bed.