Many parents will say they don’t have time to exercise. Whether you are taking care of a newborn, chasing after toddlers, or playing taxi for school age kids, it’s not unusual for a day or a week to go by before you know it. And the thought of exercise or working out hadn’t even crossed your mind.
Not having enough time is the #1 excuse people give when they aren’t being active (or aren’t being active enough). I realize that calling parents out on using the excuse of being too busy/not having enough time may not be a popular thing to do on a parenting website…but let’s call a spade a spade and an excuse an excuse.
Let me be clear: before you tar and feather me, I’m not implying for a second that parents have oodles of free time on their hands that is being squandered sitting on their butts while someone feeds them grapes. There is no doubt in my mind that you are busy busy BUSY. But regardless of how busy your schedule is, you always manage to pay the bills, spend time with your kids, get groceries, do laundry, etc…because you find time in the day to get it done. It’s not always easy but most of you would argue that those tasks HAVE to get done, so you make it a priority to do them.
So I say, why not apply the same logic to exercise? Make it a priority that just HAS to get done and find a bit of time in the day to check it off your to do list.
Still want to argue that you just don’t have time? Here are a few excuse-busting ideas for how to get started:
Schedule in your workouts. Use a calendar to keep track of work, family and other commitments so you know what's on your plate and then schedule in time for yoga, a walk, a workout DVD, a racquetball game, etc. Be sure to write it down so you make the commitment to yourself the same way you do to others when you agree to carpool day or your next dentist appointment. Writing it down helps to hold you accountable and keeps you organized when you are juggling a hundred other tasks too
Find times you can squeeze in exercise. Doing shorter workouts throughout the day can be as effective as continuous exercise. Even if you only find 10 minutes here or there, that's 10 minutes you'll be moving instead of sitting. For instance, if you can’t fit in one 30-minute walk, try three 10-minute walks instead.
Multi-task. You can alternate doing jumping jacks, crunches and pushups during the commercials of your favorite tv shows. Do squats when you fold the laundry or lunges when you’re talking on the phone. Granted you might feel a little silly doing that at first but the only person judging you in that moment is you, so get over it and get moving!
Integrate exercise with other activities. If your child is at soccer or hockey practice, use the time to jog or walk around the field or arena. Jog along as your kids ride their bikes or trikes. When you take the kids to the playground, don’t just stand or sit and watch the kids play – join in!
Make date nights active dates. Go for a long walk or jog together, play tennis, go on a bike ride with your partner. Or trade off workout times with your significant other. Take turns watching the kids on the weekends or evening to carve out some exercise time for you both.
Find a gym with childcare. Don’t have anyone to mind the kids while you go to the gym? Bring them with you! Many fitness facilities offer childcare (and at a cheaper hourly rate than your average babysitter). Ask how young they take kids, tour the facilities and choose one with hands-on sitters or playrooms with active toys rather than a room with a TV and DVDs running nonstop to keep your kids occupied.
Take advantage of your DVR. That lovely little bit of technology that allows you to record every episode of XFactor or the Big Bang Theory? It can also record workout programs! Lots of channels have 30 minute-long yoga or aerobics workouts – you can record them for free and play them later. And best of all, many of those workouts have modifications for beginners, so it’s a great way to get started.
Turn to the library. If a gym membership isn’t in your budget, you can always work out at home on the cheap. Libraries now stock up on all sorts of exercise videos: check out a few different ones every couple of weeks to mix up your workout routine and keep things interesting.
Working parents: exercise over lunch or on the road. Join a gym near work and exercise over lunch, or use lunchtime to get moving. A 20-30 minute walk can leave you feeling re-energize and ready to face the rest of the workday – not to mention you got your workout over with and your whole evening is free for family time when you get home. Travel for work? Pack some sneakers and shorts, and hit the hotel gym first thing in the morning.