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How to work out when you’re a working mom

EXERCISING
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Strategies for getting your sweat on even when you feel like you have no time for yourself.

With a job and kids – and possibly other responsibilities added to the plate – getting exercise can fall to the bottom of your priority list. But it shouldn’t! Exercise is a huge factor in that healthy self-care that keeps us from burning out, gaining weight, and ending our evening scrolling mindlessly through other people’s Facebook posts.

Time is always going to be scarce, but there are ways to fit in a workout and keep up your resolutions for a fitter, happier, healthier new year.

Here’s how some other moms fit it in, even in the midst of hectic, packed lives:

Get up super early

Some moms get up at 5:00 a.m. (or even earlier – I met one who gets up at 4:00!) and go for a quick run. Some do it every day, while others do it every other day or a couple times a week. The advantage of jogging is that it’s such an efficient way to get your exercise fix in. Slip into running shoes, head out the door, sweat in the pre-dawn darkness, and then jump in the shower. It really only takes 30 minutes and you only have to shower once.

If you prep your workout clothes and leave them in the bathroom, you’ll be even faster. No fumbling in the darkness for the right leggings … just grab and go.

If you’re like me and your body is glued to the sheets in the morning, set your smartphone alarm, make sure the volume is annoyingly loud, and leave it in the bathroom. By the time you turn it off, you’ll be awake enough for your run.

And if you feel like you can’t run all that way yet, just alternate walking and running until you get stronger. It won’t take long – you’ll get better as you go.

If you want to build a community of like-minded women who are also getting back into running, the Strava app can be a fun tool. It’s basically a social media app for runners, plus it shows you the most popular running routes in other cities in case you have to travel for work. The app costs $8 per month.

Use a workout app or video and let the kids join in

If you have small kids at home, winter evenings can seem endless. You’d like to send them outside to play but it’s often wet, raw, and too cold for them to stay out long. And you have a casserole in the oven, so trekking off to an indoor play zone is not realistic.

This is the ideal time to pop in a workout video or use an app to power you through a living room floor workout. The kids can join in – no equipment is required.

One useful app is “Home Workout – No Equipment,” available on iTunes for free downloads. You’ll find it helpful to be walked through a total body workout that targets your main muscle groups and gives you the strength training you need to boost your metabolism and give you more energy.

Another fun option for HIIT (high-intensity interval training) is the Daily Burn Trainer Workouts app. Again, no equipment is needed, but it will get your heart rate pumping and your kids will have fun flailing to the exercises, too.

Join a gym and take a class

Sometimes we really do need a “third place” to go that’s not work or home (and not Starbucks either). And sometimes running and exercising is just … not motivating enough. You might need other people around, you might need really loud music with a beat, and you might need a community of other women who are sweating alongside you.

So … join a gym! And sign up for those Zumba classes, or maybe a spin class where the music and the instructor keeps you motivated and pumped the whole way through. Don’t underestimate the impact that these classes can have on your mood and your sense of well-being. Once you get started, you might find yourself looking forward to your classes all week!

Get a buddy for lunch hour walks or workouts

If you know your kids (and their activities) won’t give you enough time to work out once you get home from work, consider doing a noon workout with a friend or a group of colleagues. Sometimes it can be as simple as going for a 30-minute walk outside (or on the treadmill, if your office has a gym). Anything that gets your blood moving is going to help you so much in the long term – your energy levels will be higher, your work will be better, and you’ll even sleep better.

Pick up a new sport or hobby

Have you ever tried rock climbing? How about kayaking? And what about hiking, golfing, windsurfing, or tennis? There are so many fun and interesting activities out there, but we often put our own interests lasts while driving our kids around to too many activities. Many moms live through their kids’ activities while neglecting their own development.

So what’s your hobby going to be? Can you spare a couple hours each week for something that challenges you physically and gives you a sense of satisfaction and achievement? If you could do anything fun and physical, what would it be?

At the end of the day, sports and hobbies aren’t just frivolous things. We need them. We are physical creatures and need to inhabit our body in an intentional – and intense – way. We can’t just sit at a desk all day long, then sit at home on the couch, and then lay in bed all night without beginning to feel like something is missing. There has to be something intensely active in our day to make us feel more alive, and intense workouts – even once or twice a week – can be just what the doctor ordered. Try it and you’ll see how much it helps your body, mind, and soul! 

Read more: Surprising benefits of decorating your office at work

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