You’ve heard it all before: Regular exercise can change the way you feel, energizing your muscles while simultaneously feeling spent. Regular exercise can change your body, making you strong and healthy. Regular exercise can open your mind, giving you time and space to think.
But I also know that not everyone feels drawn to exercise. For many women, exercise is drudgery. It is something that falls to the bottom of the list—despite all of the clear evidence that exercise is critical to good health—because it’s just no fun. When our lives are busy and filled with meeting other people’s needs, trying to find the time for fitness just doesn’t happen.
Here’s the good news: fitness doesn’t require a huge time investment. Recent studies show that cardiovascular exercise done in as short as 10 minute sessions can affect your health positively. I know you’re busy, but certainly you can find 10 minutes to invest in yourself—while the pasta is cooking you can do countertop pushups alternating with jumping jacks or while the kids are playing happily in the bathtub you can do squats or lunges next to them. Setting the small goal of 10 minutes of intentional movement every day is valid and worthwhile. Furthermore, the more you start looking for ways to insert exercise into your day, the more options you’ll find.
In forming an exercise habit, think of what motivates you. If you are a social person, you’re likely to enjoy the camaraderie of a group class. If you crave time for yourself, running, swimming, or cycling are all excellent solo endeavors. If you’re someone who likes clear, objective goals and is motivated by data, try weightlifting. And if you’re motivated by competition, there’s everything from soccer teams to roller derby. If all of these ideas seem intimidating, start gently with walking or hatha yoga.
It’s useful to treat your body like any other priority—schedule your workout time. Write it down. Check it off when you’ve completed it. When you get into the habit of planning for your exercise, you’ll be more likely to adhere to your workouts.
I think you’ll find that your 10 minutes once a day will turn into 10 minutes twice or even three times a day. I think soon your three-times-a-week exercise goal will turn into a four-times-a-week reality. When you experience better sleep and the endorphin release from exercise, you’ll start to carve out the time to treat your mama body right.
But let’s be realistic…There are days where kids are sick, we’re running around juggling priorities, it’s raining outside, and the couch is beckoning. That’s reality! If you skip a day of planned exercise, beating yourself up about it isn’t productive. Take a deep breath, remind yourself that your health is valuable, review your plan, and get back to it tomorrow.
Karen Shopoff Rooff is a certified personal trainer and certified pre/postnatal fitness specialist. She owns Balance Personal Fitness Training, which was born out of gratitude for her healthy and active life. One of her services is Balance Virtual Bootcamp, a program that delivers 30-minute workouts directly to your email and provides accountability and support from a private Facebook Page. Her three kids, ages 2.5, 7, and 10, keep Karen on the move.
Photo credit: Nicole Lee