Now that I’m a mom, it seems like no matter what I want to do, I’m scrambling to fit it into the rest of my life. Wanting to do something, or even just knowing I should, is no longer enough to make that something happen. Now more than ever it’s about planning, weighing the options, and coming up with a way to make it happen, instead of just jumping in and doing it. Sometimes it’s big things, like trying to run a business. More often than not, it’s little things, like trying to fit in exercise.
Something that used to come so easily for me and with much desire is now yet another thing to finesse into the life schedule that is motherhood. I used to get lost in hours of exercise, be it a fitness class or training for a half marathon or triathlon. Now the thought fills me with something close to dread. It’s not because I’ve suddenly come to hate exercise (although everything is somehow way harder than it used to be), but because of everything that comes with it — trying to get a toddler ready, convincing him he wants to go the gym daycare, planning workouts around childcare schedules and nap time, and running the risk of being called out of a workout early to tend to a screaming toddler. Most of the time, it just seems easier not to do it at all. But then as I’m huffing and puffing up the hill on our street with said toddler on my shoulders, I’m wondering if I’m really doing myself and my family a disservice on the health front.
While it may seem like a hassle to squeeze in a workout worth all that effort, maybe I should be focusing a little more on just doing something — anything — instead of some big grandiose training plan. While I’ve known that little bits of exercise throughout the day add up to account for the same as a single workout session of the same length, I never put a ton of stock in something really being better than nothing. Now research shows that yes, something is better than nothing, even when it comes to running. By studying different groups of people, researchers showed that even a five-minute run can improve heart health outcomes. This in particular is encouraging to me, as there’s no way I could head out for a 30-minute jog even if I could find the time.
For this particular study on heart health, researchers looked at 55,000 adults and examined their health over 15 years. What they found was that runners tended to live longer than non-runners (about three years). They had a 30 percent lower risk of death overall, and a 45 percent lower risk of death from cardiovascular complications. While these results aren’t particularly mind-blowing, the encouraging part is that pace or distance ran didn’t seem to matter. Even runners who only ran once or twice a week or ran slower than six miles per hour still had positive outcomes compared to non-runners. It didn’t even matter if the runner was also obese or a smoker; the fact that they ran at all made a difference in their risk of death from heart complications. The factor that was important, however, was consistency. (Guess I’m not completely off the hook here.)
This means if the best you can do is run around the block, as long as you stick with it, you’re doing yourself and your heart a favor.
Now instead of thinking, “Oh great, I have to find another five minutes in my day,” I can take enjoyment in the fact that I’ve already made this happen by chasing my son around on his bike or racing him around the kitchen.
Thank goodness I can finally check something off my to-do list.More On