There’s no escaping a change in your personal schedule if you’re a parent, and this includes your exercise routine. Two-hour weekend gym sessions are now replaced with everything from sleep exhaustion to soccer practice, making it easy to go down the rabbit hole of inactivity and poor health choices. Money may be tight since there’s only one income stream, so a gym membership may no longer be possible. Even if you can’t keep your old agenda, there are ways to stay fit while keeping your self-esteem elevated in the process.
Problem: Lack of Time
- Book exercise like an appointment
Make exercise a priority by scheduling it in your daily planner like you would a PTA meeting. Research has shown that parents’ personal stress affects children in a negative manner, so maintaining hobbies like exercise are recommended for a healthy parent-to-child relationship.
- Embrace functional movement
Consider riding your bike to work, taking a walk at lunch, choosing the stairs over the elevator, or simply getting up and moving throughout day—every step counts
- Exercise smart, not hard
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) experienced an uprise in popularity starting in the early 2010s, and it hasn’t lost its luster yet. The theory that one can burn more calories and fat in under 30 minutes by participating in a combination of short periods of intense anaerobic exercise and periods of rest is appealing to both those short on time and not into exercise.
Problem: Finding Energy and Motivation
- Be a role model
A recent study revealed that kids are more apt to embrace exercise and a healthy lifestyle if their parents are engaged in physical fitness. How’s that for motivation?
- Stay active with your kids
Make regular stroller walks/jogs a part of your routine. If you have older children, stay active together by biking, swimming, or simply tossing a ball around the backyard. You’ll be taking care of yourself while providing a healthy foundation for your kids, too.
- Sign up for a mini-marathon or race
No matter how many miles, participating in a race of any kind requires proper training and dedication. Added bonus: Some races will allow you to raise money for a good cause.
- Set goals with healthy rewards
It’s important that your goals are realistic, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound—in other words, “SMART.” Reward yourself with something non-food-related such as a manicure or movie tickets.
- Join a fitness group with other single parents
Many local communities have organized activities to meet the needs of single parents. There are several resources to help you find a group where you can couple your workout with emotional support.
- Work out a trade with another single parent
Work out a schedule with another single parent to swap a time frame to watch one another’s kids and squeeze in a workout.
- Work out at home or on the go
With thousands of motivating fitness apps to choose from, it’s easy to execute an inexpensive, gym-quality workout in the privacy of your own home. Or, prevent monotony by taking your workout to the great outdoors. Opt for a public space like a park. It’s been proven that time outdoors is good for your mind because your vitamin D levels receive a boost.
- Invest in inexpensive equipment
Incorporating dumbbells and resistance bands into your routine increases the body’s ability to build muscle and strength. To see continued improvement, adjust your routine every six to eight weeks. Variables include: sets, types of exercises, number of repetitions, weight, and rest periods. Save money by shopping at online auctions or resale shops for used equipment.
Staying fit is a marathon, not a sprint
It’s impossible to keep up with the same fitness schedule as you did before you were a single parent, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t live a healthy lifestyle and be your best self. Whether you’re an old pro getting back into action or jumping on the fitness bandwagon for the first time, slow and steady wins the race if you want to make a lifelong commitment to physical fitness.
Article by Daniel Sherwin of DadSolo.com