A Guide for Staying Fit as a Single Parent
The life of a single parent easy-- there’s no doubt about it. When you’re raising kids, you have to keep your children’s needs before your own, work around their schedule, manage the household finances, and act as emotional guardians for the entire family. If you are a single parent, take all those responsibilities and double them. That’s how not easy it is.
And while it can be easy to forget to take care of yourself in lieu of getting everything else done, you’re really doing a disservice to the whole family. Think about it: there’s a reason flight attendants on airplanes tell you to put your air mask on before your child’s. Sometimes in life you have to take care of yourself before you can really take care of others.
Exercise as Self-Care
One of the simplest, yet most powerful, ways to practice self-care is exercise. Humans are not meant to be as sedentary as we are and the results are poor health, obesity, lethargy, and depression. The connection between the mind and body means if you don’t take care of one, you’ll feel it in both. Taking some time out of your day to work out helps release the stress build up mentally that we eventually feel in our bodies, saving you a few trips to the doctor’s office. Not only does exercise reduce stress, but it also boosts your positive, motivating emotions, too. Part of this is biology — the body is regulating itself during exercise, but it also has to do with seeing and feeling the results of your efforts.
Of course, it can be hard to motivate yourself to go work out after a long day juggling your responsibilities. If you find yourself struggling to find the time, energy, or funds available for it, try these simple tips on how to fit a little more exercise into your life as a single parent.
Fitting in Fitness as a Single Parent
You may think fitness is too time-consuming an endeavor, but you may be surprised at how little a commitment it has to be. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends:
● At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, and
● Strength training exercises for all major muscle groups at least two times a week.
Moderate aerobic activity refers to things you do everyday with your kids like walking, playing on the playground, swimming, dancing, or riding bicycles around the neighborhood… you can easily do that five times a week! The best thing to do is involve your kids in the activity. Not only will you be getting in your exercise while spending quality time with your children, you’ll also be setting a positive example for them as far as healthy habits go.
Of course, walking with your kids does not count for the strength training part of the recommendation. It’s important to strength train in order manage your weight, increase bone density, prevent disease, and generally feel better as you age. While you may hear “strength training” and think of bulky bodybuilders pumping iron at the gym, it doesn’t have to be that complicated (or intimidating!). You can strength train at home for free with the help of some inexpensive, instructional internet videos, and a little bit of discipline.
Your life as a single parent may be hectic, but it’s important to make time for your health. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your family to your best ability. An important way to care for yourself is through exercise. It will help you feel great and live longer. You don’t have to commit too much time a day to being fit, but using that time to bond with your kids helps with a tight schedule all while setting a great example on the importance of taking care of one’s health.