Staying Active, for You and Your Children

Father and sonBeing a parent is not easy. By the time your kids reach their teens, you will have survived tantrums at 3 a.m., boo-boo emergencies and soccer practices, all the while, accumulating patches of grey hair. You have a new mountain of responsibilities, on top of your work, and no semblance of a social life. But that shouldn’t stop you from staying healthy and in-shape. Exercising helps parents stay energetic, relieves anxiety and helps you set a good example for your children.

Parenthood is both physically and emotionally exhausting, so keeping your body fit becomes more difficult. Regular physical activity remains very important to continuing a healthy lifestyle, post-child, but kids are naturally energetic and dependent, so you are left with minimal time to take care of your body in your spare time. A University of Pittsburgh study concludes that new parents immediately become less active when they have children, despite feeling like they are always busy.

Incorporating regular exercise back into your schedule is crucial. Your priorities may have changed, but you should still weave your exercise regimen into your life, if you want to be able to play catch and run around with your children ten years down the road. One lifestyle change could be something as easy as nixing a half-hour of Netflix, in favor of a brisk neighborhood walk. Even though sleep deprivation and fatigue become hard to avoid, here are three simple ways to stay fit and energetic, as a parent.

  •  Do it for your kids. Integrating physical fitness into their lives makes your life simpler and more balanced. Although you may not have time to hit the gym, you can always go for walks with your children, or work sets of crunches, push-ups and squats into your day. If your kids are older, spend time bonding with them over some strenuous physical activity – it shows them that you care about their lives and about getting regular exercise. Ultimately, you are their role model and they subconsciously learn from your actions.
  • Make time in your schedule to be constantly active. You don’t need to be LeBron James or Serena Williams to keep moving. Set aside 30 minutes for demanding physical activity every day, or if you don’t have that time, break it up into 10 minute increments. Also improve your daily habits. Examples include walking to the grocery store, parking farther from your destination, taking the stairs, and playing with your pets more often.
  • Put your phone down and unplug. More than likely, your “urgent” emails can wait until tomorrow morning. Your children are now your top priority. While you may feel stressed and pressed for time, don’t let technology control you. Regular exercise not only helps your body’s long-term health, it improves productivity and makes you happier, as well. If nothing else, turn your phone off and put it away. Calm your nerves, be present, and go for a run!

Having children is a blessing, though it doesn’t always make it easy for you be a healthy parent. Developing a steady exercise routine and occasionally checking out of the twenty-four hour news cycle, will set quality examples for your kids, and influence a whole new generation to be fit. Do it for them, and for you.

Photo Credit: Shaver

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  1. Love this article. I have a 13 year old son who was told that his cholesterol is too high. We have made diet changes, but haven’t had time to “get active.” He needs more physical activity and this article has encouraged me to take time out and join him. Thanks!!

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