No excuses: Finding time to exercise as a single parent
Although my husband and I both have disabilities, we still make it a point to be active so we can be positive, healthy role models for our two wonderful children. We’re very fortunate that we’re a team and can therefore trade off kid-watching duties when one of us wants to squeeze in a workout.
Unfortunately, many single parents – regardless of their abilities – have to work a little harder to fit in some exercise.
Whenever the topic of exercise comes up, single parents throw their hands in the air and say, “I would love to, if I could only find the time!”
Does that sound like you? If so, then we know how you feel. Raising kids takes tons of time and loads of energy, leaving you short on both when the day is done. But never fear. In this post, we’ll share proven ways to squeeze an energizing workout into your schedule.
Turn Your Work Commute Into Aerobic Activity
Take a tip from top fitness trainer Monica Vasquez and run to and from your job. Monica gets so wrapped up in helping others to stay fit that she finds herself starved for workout time. So she stuffs her essentials into a fanny pack and jogs back and forth instead. Not only does she get a great workout, she often shaves time off her commute!
Or, Turn Your Walks with Fido into a Workout
Commuting to and from work by foot isn’t feasible for everyone, but if you have a dog, you can’t neglect taking him for daily walks. By adding a few calorie-burning moves into your outings, you’ll squeeze in a quick and fun workout. If you don’t have a pup of your own, you could even consider offering dog walking or dog boarding services to your neighbors. You can earn a little extra money while getting in a daily dose of exercise, and it’s an easy activity to get your kids involved in to help keep them in shape.
Sneak in a Run During Nap Time
A jogging stroller is a great way to get in a brisk workout while your little one snoozes, according to Runner’s World. Here are some tips for choosing the right model:
- Look for a unit with a wheel brake. This feature is especially useful in you live in a hilly area. It can protect your child while removing stress from your downhill trek.
- Make sure the stroller has an adjustable sun canopy to protect your little one’s skin from the sun.
- Consider buying a model with a turning front wheel if your route winds around curves.
Recruit Your Kids Into Your Own Private Fitness Camp
One option for finding time to exercise is to involve the kids in the project. Have a touch football game in the backyard, throw a flying disc, or put together an outdoor obstacle course. Make the activities fun as well as invigorating. This is a great way to enjoy a little togetherness while getting in shape.
Redeem Your Lost Time
Tally up how much time you spend during the average day chatting, casually surfing the net, and staring at a TV screen. Each of these activities represents time you could put to another use, such as exercising. Give it a try, and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised at how much time you actually have. Or you might combine your workout with another activity you enjoy. Using a door-frame pull-up bar while listening to music is one idea.
Make Your Lunch Break a Time for Fitness
Here’s an idea from the health experts at the Mayo Clinic: get together with some co-workers and turn your lunch or dinner time into a fitness break. Set a group objective, such as losing “x” number of pounds by a given date. If you reach your goal, then treat yourselves to a nice dinner or some spa time. This is a great way to stay motivated while you shed the pounds.
Use a Fitness Tracker
Wristwatch-style fitness trackers are all the rage these days – and for good reason. These products can record your heart rate, monitor your blood pressure, and even reward you with a virtual “attagirl” or “attaboy” when you meet your targets. There’s no better way to make the most of your fitness time. Many smartwatches incorporate key features of fitness trackers while offering added services like on-demand music and full Web access.
Choose an Active Hobby
Everyone needs a pastime to stimulate the mind. Why not give your body a little stimulus while you’re enjoying your hobby? Options like basketball, bike riding, and ballroom dancing can build coordination while doing wonders for your physical health as well.
Exercise is one of the smartest investments you can make. You’ll find yourself with more energy, a brighter outlook, and a clearer, sharper mind, all great qualities for a parent to have. So make some time today for physical activity, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
Ashley Taylor is a mother of two and founder of DisabledParents.org, a website that provides information and resources to other parents with disabilities.