May-05-2011

Busy Moms and Exercise: Give Yourself a Gift This Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and many moms would love the gift of time. Time to be alone; time to be with family and friends; time for fun; time to read; and yes–time to exercise! 

Women hear the recommendations all the time– try to exercise 30 minutes to one hour per day four or five times a week. And many women readily acknowledge that after a walk, a run, cycling or taking a Zumba or yoga class, they feel better emotionally and physically.

Physical activity helps us with our weight, our body image, our stress, our sleep, our energy, our concentration, and for those in menopause, even hot flashes. These are just a few of the many positive benefits of regular exercise.  But a lot of women find it tough to add physical activity to their schedule in the face of so many competing responsibilities at home, at work and in the community.

So, how can you find time to exercise when you already feel maxed out with all that you have to do? Here are several strategies to help women find more time for exercise:

Capitalize on screen and play time.  If you allow your child who is a least two years old to watch a 30-minute video or television program or use the computer, consider using a stationary bike or elliptical machine while they are plugged in. If you have very young children, place the exercise equipment in the same room so that you can keep an eye on them while they are playing with toys. This may not be alone time, but you will still feel better after the exercise.

Claim waiting time. Exercise when your children are at after school sports, classes or lessons.  Instead of waiting for your child in the car or school, go for a walk while they are at practice – even for 30 minutes.

Negotiate exercise time.  Talk with your spouse or partner, another mom, a neighbor, friends or another parent about covering each other for 30 minute intervals during the week or over the weekend so that each of you can get exercise.  Everyone benefits! 

Invite other moms. Go with another mom to the local track or park and alternate walking and watching the children. There is a good bet the other mom would be delighted to have 30 minutes to herself and get a walk or run in as well!

Get moving at lunch. During lunch, go for a walk alone or with colleagues. You will return to the office more refreshed and focused. Trying eating lunch before or after you go out or consider walking to a park, eating and then walking back.  The sunlight will be good for you as well!

Get moving in your neighborhood. Consider talking with other women in your neighborhood about walking together at the same time a few days a week. Making a commitment to others can help us sustain exercise goals.

Take a child with you. Take a child on bike ride, out for a walk or a run, ice skating or on a hike with you. While this strategy will not get you alone time, you will get more physical activity than staying at home, and will help your child to develop an active lifestyle.

Get up and exercise. Consider using an exercise video, an online video, TV exercise program or exercise equipment for 30 minutes before your children get up in the morning.  Many women feel less stressed during the day when they get to bed earlier and start the morning with some time for themselves.

Remember: Even some exercise tends to feel better than none. If finding an hour is tough, 30 minutes is a great start.  Try to set realistic goals and put your physical activity on your task list! Start today and give yourself the gift of health and well-being.

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3 Responses to “Busy Moms and Exercise: Give Yourself a Gift This Mother’s Day”

  1. Dr. Helen L. Coons   May 12, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Mark – thanks so very much for letting us use your wonderful photo! It was perfect for the blog on women and exercise. Looking forward to seeing your work!

    With kind regards,

    Dr. Helen Coons

  2. ymyb   May 10, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks Mark! We’re appreciative that you made this photo permissible for reuse. -Angel, YMYB admin

  3. Mark Stosberg   May 10, 2011 at 6:24 am

    I’m glad my photo was helpful. The bike pictured above is an electric-assisted cargo bike, which makes a great car replacement in many cases. Electric-assisted bike trips don’t take much longer for some around-town trips, and they allow you to choose the level of exercise that you want out of the experience.

    My wife, pictured above, would commute on this bike to work, dropping the child off at daycare. Going in, she would use a lot of assist to get their quickly, without sweating. On the way home when she had more time and didn’t need to arrive looking so neat, she used less assist and go more exercise.

    I have a lot more about the bike here:

    ( photos )
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/markstos/sets/72157623940164001/detail/

    and here:

    ( blog posts )
    http://mark.stosberg.com/mt/mt-search.cgi?blog_id=1&tag=electric&limit=20