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Parents, It’s OK Not to Exercise (from a Personal Trainer Herself)

Image Source: Thinkstock
Image Source: Thinkstock

Moms have every reason not to exercise. Valid reasons. I don’t subscribe to the #NoExcuses movement; show me a meme with a scantily dressed fit mom with some “motivational” message and cue the eye roll.

However, I will admit that before I had kids, I didn’t understand why moms claimed it’s so hard to exercise. How hard could it possibly be? Then my son was born and I got it. Being a mom makes exercising extremely challenging, and at times impossible. We have every reason not to exercise … and so we shouldn’t. Best thing you’ve heard all week, huh?!

But I mean exercise in the way we currently think of and define it. Exercise is most commonly thought of as a physical activity done in a gym, class, or even an outdoor setting. It has to be a time set aside from your kids and other responsibilities, for the sole purpose of helping to achieve some exercise-specific goal (lose weight, burn calories, build muscle, increase mileage, set a new personal record, get abs of steel … whatever your goals are). You don’t need to go to the gym every day, run five miles, or take spinning classes to get in shape and be healthy.

You don’t need to exercise. You need to move. Move as humans were designed to move. Move frequently and in a variety of ways throughout your day. Incorporate movement into your life, as part of your life, not separate from it.

What does that look like? Here are 10 ways I’ve incorporated more movement into my life since my son was born. I’m a sleep-deprived working mother of an extremely challenging 2-1/2-year-old boy, and I’m seven months pregnant with my second. These have worked for me and I hope some, if not all, will work for you too.

1. Get down on the floor and play.

For a great “workout” I get down on my son’s level and mimic his movements. Toddlers are constantly moving so prepare to be tired after this one.

2. Incorporate active playtime and games into the day.

Example: Our latest favorite is to pretend we’re different animals and crawl, hop, and jump around the house. My son particularly loves getting on my back while I crawl around.

3. Hold my son in my arms or in a carrier and walk up and down the stairs or do slow squats to get him to sleep.

When he was younger and took several naps each day, this was a big part of my daily “workout.” You don’t need to be working up a sweat (even though you might). The idea is just to get your body moving.

4. Carry my son (in my arms) as much as possible.

Since birth, my son has had an almost constant need to be held (by me, of course, because no one else will suffice). So for me, this option wasn’t one I chose, but one that he chose for me. And as it turns out, it helped me get in the best shape of my life.

5. Walk as much as possible (ideally carrying my son).

Walking is one of the best things you can do for your body and mind. Try not to always default to pushing your kid in a stroller. Walking while carrying your baby or kid is a great way to get in shape. It’s also very challenging. I recommend starting with a short amount of time and increasing as you build up strength and endurance.

6. Sit on the couch less and on the floor more.

Sitting on the floor encourages you to move around more than you do when you sit on the couch. It also encourages you to hold your body in better alignment, which means you’ll feel, function, and look better.

7. Move while watching TV.

I’m not talking about a Jane Fonda workout. Simple stretches and yoga poses are good, relaxing options to do while you’re winding down and watching TV at the end of the day.

8. Move differently throughout the house.

There are so many ways to just move around the house. Here’s a video with lots of great ideas.

9. Incorporate movement into chores and routine tasks.

Example: I do a deep resting squat (that feels nothing like resting … ha!) when I fold the laundry.

10. Sit less and move more at work, too.

Of course I sit at work, but I try to move as much as possible. I sit, I stand, I do simple stretches, I walk around. Simply put, I vary my positions and do a variety of movements as much as I can throughout the day.

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