Why Single Parents Need to Find Time for Fitness (And How to Do It!)
When your days are packed to the brim with work and family responsibilities, it’s hard to find the time or energy for exercise. But being a rockstar single parent means taking care of your own needs, too, not just your kids’. So how do you find time for fitness?
Find time for fitness
When you’re healthy and active, you have more energy and patience to be the parent you want to be. Exercise is a proven remedy for stress; it makes you feel happier, calmer, and more attentive, it energizes you, and it even helps you sleep when you finally find a moment to. For the most part, this is because exercise releases dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins, powerful neurotransmitters that act as natural pain relievers and mood-boosters. Their effects can improve your self-esteem and help you stay focused on your goals. That means that when you make fitness a regular part of your life, you’re keeping yourself on track to becoming a super-parent.
Finding time when you’re raising kids alone
Of course, getting active is easier said than done when you’re raising kids alone. Most single parents go straight from work to caring for kids at home, leaving no time to focus on self-care. However, that doesn’t mean an active lifestyle is impossible — you just have to get creative.
When children are very little, it’s easiest to incorporate them into your workout routine. Bench pressing your new baby is a great upper body workout that also lets you get quality time with the little one. Plus, the difficulty increases naturally as your child grows. For cardio, pick up a jogging stroller or a child carrier for your bicycle. They can be pricey new, but you save money by buying one secondhand from parents whose children have outgrown them.
As the kids get older
As babies and toddlers graduate to preschoolers, Mom or Dad’s workout routine stops being as entertaining. However, your kids still need constant attention. So you can’t just turn on the TV while you go for a run. During this stage, the most convenient workaround is to pay for an extra hour at daycare so you can hit the gym immediately after work. That way, you’re feeling refreshed and ready for the evening when you pick your kids up. Gym membership too expensive? Home workout videos like those available from Fitness Blender and HASfit are free, easy to learn, and require little to no equipment.
Once your kids are school-age, it becomes a little easier to find an hour to yourself. Take advantage of kids that sleep in by making yoga part of your morning ritual Squeeze in a bodyweight workout during homework time. Or run laps around the field during soccer practice. This is also a great time to start instilling a love of fitness into your children. Making family exercise a part of your weekly schedule builds healthy habits. If your kids are less than enthusiastic, find ways to make fitness more fun. Bringing the dog along can make a simple run or hike more exciting, and there are lots of backyard games that will get the blood pumping.
Keep it simple
Getting active can be intimidating, especially when you’re crunched for time, money, and energy. But working out doesn’t have to be complicated. If you can find an extra 30 minutes in your day, you can get enough exercise to meet the American Heart Association’s physical activity recommendations. And while it’s fun to have the latest workout gear, there’s a lot you can do with nothing but a pair of running shoes and a yoga mat. It might not always be glamorous, but it will always be worth it. These exercises are about more than staying in shape. It’s about achieving your best self so that you can rise to the challenges of raising kids.
Henry Moore is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you.
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