Think You’re Too Busy To Workout? You’re Wrong

Mum planking with daughter on her back

You’re a busy parent, mornings are frantic getting the kids to school or nursery, afternoons are fraught with a tired toddler, homework, or clubs and activities. Then there are more activities, birthday parties, and family time at a weekend. There is absolutely no way that you can fit in time to exercise. You’re wrong, you are just not prioritising your own physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

Why Should I Exercise? 

It is true, as a parent your children rely on you to care for all their needs, and to support their growth and development. It is easy to think that you are being selfish, or letting the kids down if you are unavailable during your gym sessions, home workouts, runs, or other exercise. However, you are doing them, and yourself, a huge disservice if you don’t do it. Exercise is one of the highest forms of self-care and is important that you lead by example. Children whose parents exercise are more likely to be physically active, and less likely to be overweight both as children and into adulthood. 

As babies and toddler’s children want you to pick them up and carry them, older kids may want you to play on the park or kick a football around, and teenagers might enjoy tree top adventures and other high adrenaline activities. Can you physically do these things, or does the thought terrify you? You certainly don’t have to be able to squat your body weight, run a marathon, or spend every spare hour in the pursuit of physical fitness, but doing some activity will ensure that you are able to keep up with your kids. 

But I Don’t Have Time To Exercise 

You may think that you need a lot of time to workout, and yes if you are planning on running a marathon, cycling 100 miles, or entering a power lifting contest you will need time to dedicate to training. But, for most people, you included, that currently do very little physical activity, every minute spent will help to increase your fitness, strength, and lifespan. Lifespan? Yes, people that exercise are more likely to live longer, and importantly to live in good health for more years. 

On average, adults in the UK spend 4 hours per day watching TV, and the average UK adult scree time is 8.8 hours per day. Are you really telling me that you don’t have time to spare? Government guidelines suggest that all adults get 150 minutes of moderate of 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, in additional to 2-3 resistance training sessions. This is about half an hour a day on average. 

Now I hear you, it’s all well and good saying it’s only half an hour, but what about the time to get to and from the gym? I don’t have childcare. I can’t afford a gym membership. No problem. For the purposes of improving your health and fitness you don’t need a gym membership, you don’t even need any special equipment. It is true that even minimal equipment, such as a set of resistance bands or light dumbbells, will be of benefit, but you can get a fantastic workout at home with just a small amount of space. 

Example Workouts 

During the COVID pandemic many people got phenomenal results doing body weight exercises at home, and you can too. Body weight exercises, such as push ups, are challenging and fantastic for building strength. There are also options for a more aerobic focused workout, by doing Tabata style circuits and including exercises such as burpees and mountain climbers. In fact, it is this style of workout that I would recommend for minimum time and maximum benefit, that covers both strength and aerobic training. To get you started try doing the workout below 1-3 times per week. 

  • Burpees
  • Push ups (elevated or on knees as necessary)
  • Air squat
  • Mountain climbers (elevated if necessary)
  • Bird dog
  • Plank

Do these five exercises as a circuit. Work for 20 seconds, followed by 10 seconds rest, then immediately onto the next exercise. After doing all five exercises once take a longer rest of 30-60 seconds, and then repeat 2-4 times. There is a HIIT timer app that you can download and use for free to do the counting. Doing this circuit three times, with 1 minute rest between circuits will take 12 minutes. Going from doing nothing to this, consistently will be a huge benefit to your health, and help to improve your fitness to ensure that you don’t need to disappoint your children by not being able to join in with them. 

Get The Kids Involved

Most kids love to be like mum and dad, you can of course choose to workout when they are in bed, but why not consider getting them involved. A family that plays together stays together! Most babies find their parents behaving in unexpected ways hilarious, squat down and tickle their tummy they will love it. Toddlers and older children can join in, and after all, at that age even if they don’t want to join in, they can probably entertain themselves for 12 minutes. And importantly you will be setting an excellent example and showing them the importance of looking after their own health and fitness. 

It is also important to build in additional activity wherever you can, aiming for the recommended government guidelines each week. Activity can be in the form of a brisk walk, bike ride, even household chores and gardening count. Why not head out for a family bike ride at the weekend, take a 15-minute stroll on your lunch break, or commit to walking the kids to school a few days a week. Activity can be in short bursts, frequently through the day, and even a few minutes walking to the corner shop instead of driving adds up when done repeatedly. 

Stop Using Your Kids As An Excuse, You Have Time to Workout 

It sounds harsh, but the worst thing that you can do is use your kids as an excuse not to exercise. They will not thank you. Even if it is when they are in bed, you have 12 minutes. In fact, as your fitness improves it is likely that your kids will be delighted that you chose to workout, and to prioritise your own health. And, as you start to see the improvements, it will get easier. Not in a week, but if you consistently do the above workout as recommended, within a month you should start to see that it gets easier. Over time you can increase the work time or the number of sets to increase the intensity and gain further benefits. You may even find that you start to seek out a tougher workout, opt to start Couch 25K, or even take on a different challenge. If I can be of any help along the way don’t hesitate to reach out. Coaching to assist with weight loss and toning up is available, but I am always happy to give advice when asked. 

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