We are so busy rushing between school, nursery, after school clubs and work that we often forget to take care of ourselves and fit exercise into our lives. I know that it features quite low down on the list of things that need to get done in a week but taking some time out to exercise has some wonderful advantages.
I tend to sleep better – all that sweat-inducing activity means I am physically exhausted by the time I get to bed. It also reduces stress, sharpens your memory (which has taken a bit of bashing since having children), gives you more energy, plus it boosts brainpower, all of which I could do with in my life.
Find a sport that makes you feel good about yourself. Think back to when you were young. What used to make you feel good? Mine was swimming and roller skating. When I partake in either of these activities I feel like my batteries have been fully recharged and I am ready for whatever life wants to throw at me.
Once you have found that sport, it’s about finding the time to squeeze it into our already busy schedules. If you need some inspiration then take a look at my Top 10 Ways to fit exercise into your busy week. Depending on your circumstances not all of these will be appropriate, but hopefully there are a couple of ideas that will fit into your weekly routine.
1. Make exercise part of your commute
Be it running, cycling, scooting or walking to work. This is an excellent way of fitting exercise into your life without having to make any extra time for it. My commute to work involved travelling a mere three miles but it would take me almost an hour as it involved a walk to the bus stop, catching a bus, changing buses, catching another bus (full of school children) and then a long walk to my final destination. I decided that I would try walking instead and guess what? It took the same amount of time. It was a great way to start the day. It gave me the opportunity to clear my mind and get prepared for the day ahead plus I saved money on the bus fare.
If it isn’t practical to run/cycle/scoot/walk the whole way to or from work are there elements of your commute that could work? For example, instead of driving to the train station could you walk?
2. Weekend time
I get it, family time at the weekend is precious but try and squeeze in some time for yourself. My husband and I take turns on the weekend mornings to have some ‘me’ time. On Saturday mornings, my husband looks after the girls and I have until 8.30am to do what I want. Given that the girls are normally up at 6am, this gives me two and a half hours to do whatever the hell I like. I normally have a ‘lie in’ until 7am, catch up on the news, go for a long run, followed by a relaxing bath. My husband has Sunday mornings to himself and he usually uses it to read the Sunday papers in bed in peace.
3. Hold a yoga/pilates exercise class at your house
Perhaps you are unable to leave the house in the evenings to exercise because you are a single parent or your partner works late nights. If your home is big enough ask a local yoga teacher to hold a weekly class with you and your friends. Yoga and pilates are ideal as they don’t require a large area. The classes often work out cheaper (as the teacher does not need to hire a venue) plus you get to spend time with your friends. Win win.
4. Get up 30 minutes earlier
A tough one but if you are really struggling to fit exercise into your life, can you get up 30 minutes earlier? It doesn’t have to be every day, perhaps just a couple of times a week. It’s a great way to start the day. If losing 30 minutes of sleep will make you miserable the next day, how about going to bed 30 minutes earlier the night before? You can use that 30 minutes to go for a run or if you don’t fancy stepping outside first thing in the morning, how about an exercise DVD? Also, if you need some inspiration on what exercises to do, then Pinterest is a great tool for finding specific toning moves.
5. Scoot and run
Our walk to school used to be rather slow. However, recently the girls rediscovered their scooters and enjoy scooting to school. Whilst this means that we are much faster it does pose a new problem in that I can’t keep up with them. So now I don my running gear and trainers and run beside them to school. By the time I am back home I have done 25 minutes exercise.
6. Join a class
Half the problem in doing exercise is finding the motivation. Particularly if you are exercising alone. However, I find that if I join a weekly class that is on at the same time, same place every week then I feel more motivated to go. I put it in my calendar and ensure that my husband knows on those particular days he has to be home on time. Paying in advance for a term and roping in a friend are great ways to ensure you have no excuse for ducking out.
7. Seize every opportunity
The other day I had to take the car into the garage for its annual service. Our garage is 5 miles away. Once I had taken the car in I was going jump on a bus home but then I had a crazy thought that I could run home. And I did. Now, please don’t be under any disillusions, I am no runner, I run very slowly, I sometimes break into a walk and I have an unusual style of running with my thumbs sticking up (my husband’s bugbear). Running 5km is not something I do often, but I did it and you can too. My point is grab any opportunity you can to squeeze in some exercise into your life.
8. Lunchtime gym/swim/class
If you have a gym near your work why not enrol yourself and go for a lunchtime swim/gym session/class.
If your lives are super hectic then have you tried the app Seven? It won ‘App of the Year 2016’. Seven takes you through a variety of exercises in a seven-minute blitz of intense movements with little to no rest. If you follow the workout to the letter the developers of the app claim that the programme is equivalent to an hour-long workout so it’s perfect for time-strapped parents.
10. Take up a new sport
Combine exercise with making new friends and take up a team sport. It’s a great way to meet new people, learn a new sport plus you might feel incentivised to ensure you go every week or else you let your team down. There are lots of fun sports to get involved in from the traditional netball, hockey and football to the slightly more unusual Ultimate frisbee, dodgeball or tag. Check out sports centres and local listings for more details.
Over to you
I hope you found something amongst this Top 10 Ways to fit exercise into your busy week that will work for you. Do you have any tips that you think belong on this list?