Yes, treat themselves. Exercise is selfcare. And like any form of selfcare, the challenge exists in finding the time to make it a priority. Between managing a household, cooking meals, helping with homework, driving to and from sports practice, doing endless loads of laundry and possibly working outside of the home, it’s no surprise that for most moms the idea of making exercise a priority seems unrealistic.
Moms have a knack for putting everything and everyone else before themselves. We ensure our kids are getting enough exercise whether it be through sports or ushering them outside to play. But who holds us accountable for getting our daily dose of physical fitness?
Exercise is my therapy. Yes, I exercise for the physical benefits it provides me, but the mental benefits far outweigh the physical ones. Exercise goes beyond gaining stronger, leaner muscles. It’s about more than breaking a sweat or holding a one-minute plank. Of course, these physical benefits are appealing, but exercise also allows me to be present. It steers my mind to the right here and right now. It provides the essential break from to-do lists, grocery lists, kids sports schedules and school calendars. It offers me the opportunity to clear my head and focus on myself.
When people ask me how many days a week I work out and I answer with “every day,” I am usually received with a look of skepticism followed by the question, “How do you have the time?” I always answer back with “I make time.” Another common response is “I hate working out. I could never exercise every day.” This is where perspective comes into play. I don’t look as exercise as something I have to do. I look at it as something I get to do. It’s one hour per day that I gift to myself. It’s time spent with other likeminded adults and most importantly, no children. It’s freedom from refereeing arguments between siblings. It’s a time out from fixing someone a meal or asking someone to pick up after themselves. These 60 minutes are all mine.
My kids are never surprised when they see me head out the door in my workout clothes, sweat towel and water bottle in hand. They don’t ask how long I’ll be gone or when I’ll be back. They’ve grown to understand that this is Mom’s time and I always come back. Because they see me making physical fitness a priority, I hope I’m encouraging them to do the same.
We schedule doctor appointments and dentist appointments and even play dates for our children. You can schedule time for exercise in the same way. At the beginning of each week, allot time each day for exercise. Whatever your fitness routine may look like, try to spend a minimum of 30 minutes per day moving your body. Try a new fitness class at your local studio or gym, step onto a yoga mat to explore your mind-body connection or carve 30 minutes out of your day to take a brisk walk or jog outside. Just move.
I believe my kids like me better after a workout. I’m certain my husband does, too. Even I like myself more after I’ve broken a sweat during a great workout. I feel lighter and recharged and my mood has typically shifted from tired and overwhelmed to motivated and confident. Exercise endorphins are a real thing. Endorphins are the “feel-good” neurotransmitters that are responsible for the coveted “runner’s high.” This is the sense of well-being and euphoria that many people experience after exercise.
According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can provide stress relief for your body which may lead to improvements in your digestive and immune systems. These exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life. We give so much of ourselves to our families. It’s important to take care of yourself as well.
Take that walk. Try out a new fitness class that your local community is buzzing about. Disconnect from the outside world on your yoga mat. Search online for the top fitness videos. Your mind and your body will thank you for it.
TIPS FOR STARTING AN EXERCISE ROUTINE:
- Find exercise you enjoy
Shop around! Whether it’s a boutique fitness studio, your backyard or even your basement, do your research. Find a form of exercise you love and stick with it. If you’re not able to join a gym, research online fitness videos and choose something that appeals to you.
- Mark your calendar
Pencil in time on your calendar just like you do for other commitments. If it’s on your calendar, you’ll be more inclined to schedule other obligations around it.
- Book yourself into class ahead of time
Most gyms and studios incur a fee for a late cancellation. If you’ve already signed up and paid for it, you’ll likely go. Sign up at least a few days ahead of class to ensure your spot in class.
- Prepare in advance
Make it as easy as possible for yourself to walk out the door for exercise. Lay your workout gear out the night before. Prepare your music playlist on your device ahead of time with tunes that motivate you. You can even download your favorite pod cast or book on tape. If you’re planning on going on a walk or jog, map your route ahead of time. Try mapmyrun.com.
- Consult your physician
If you are starting an exercise regimen for the first time, consult with your doctor before beginning your new fitness routine.
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto.