Barriers to exercise for parents

Barriers to exercise

I’ve been reflecting on barriers to exercise and fitness as a new(ish) parent.

This is a topic of importance to me personally. Well it is important to me now.

I was told in the early haze of (second time) parenthood I needed to exercise for ten minutes a day.  I knew then in my head it was important; My poor tummy muscles, objecting to even the teensiest bit of stress, knew it was important; but my heart, and hands, were too full of my brand new baby boy.

I was so lucky to have sufficient support from professionals, family and friends to achieve this tiny, but also challenging goal.

There are many potential barriers to exercise as a parent.

I am not advocating rushing back to the gym in the early days as a parent. Far from it. Conventional advice I received was to avoid high impact exercise such as running for at least 3 months after childbirth. Many women like myself with pelvic floor weakness may even be advised to take it easy for 6 months.

But what about those like me who need to do something early to re-establish core strength; Or those that enjoy the social, as well as the physical benefits, of exercise; what about later on… Being a parent lasts a long time.

These are some of the barriers to exercise I have encountered as a parent. Perhaps you have also experienced others?

1. Time: It can just be so busy. Juggling children, domestic duties, work and sleep. Exercise and fitness may not be a priority for precious adult time. Sometimes this is quite appropriate; time for emotional wellbeing is also vital.

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2. Energy: It is tiring physically and sometimes emotionally exhausting as a parent, particularly if sleep is disrupted. Fortunately running after toddlers, lifting and carrying babies, walking with pushchairs and generally being physically active is in itself good for physical wellbeing. Personally I still feel a greater benefit from also having adult time to exercise. I also find I tend to gain energy from exercise in this way, even when my energy resources are low.

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3. Motivation: I’ve been struggling to write about motivation for weeks now. Not because I lack motivation but because I know how hard it can be to find. I don’t want sound patronising or as if I have all the answers. I often rely on the inspiration of others to help motivate me.

4. Confidence: I think this particularly applies to women after having children. Our bodies undergo immense changes. They don’t necessarily look the same and they may not respond in the someway to physical stress. I can’t be the only one worrying about exercising whilst breastfeeding or about the consequences of pelvic floor weakness whilst running (that means potentially leaking a little wee).

5. Childcare: Definitely a practical issue for many parents. There are some classes to which you can bring children also some gyms with crèche facilities. Knowing what’s on where can be a challenge too.

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6. Knowledge: Following on from the point above, I often rely on friends to recommend groups and classes.

7. Guilt: Although finding motivation and time for fitness is difficult, sometimes justifying adult time for our own priorities is almost as hard.

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I felt a little deflated after writing this list. I don’t just want to write about the barriers to exercise as a parent without being able to offer some kind of solution.

I alone don’t have all the answers and nether does this blog. However, I believe that many of these barriers can be overcome by parents. Particularly when they are not trying to overcome these barriers in isolation.

So I’ve created a Facebook group for parents to share motivation and ideas. I hope Mums and Dads might use it to share their knowledge of local exercise classes suitable for kids and parents; to motivate each other; to help others improve confidence and to perhaps share and achieve goals together.

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Here is a link to the group. I hope it might help a few of us over come some of these barriers to exercise.

Ten Minutes Spare – Families and Fitness

Please do come and join in if you think it may be useful to you. I’m sure that you will be able to inform, inspire or motivate someone else.

30 Second Summary: It can be tough to exercise or maintain fitness as a parent. I hope that this new group might help overcome a few of these barriers.

What have been the biggest challenges to looking after your physical health as a parent? Have you any tips for overcoming them?

I’m linking up with these great blogs:

Mami 2 Five
Mummascribbles
Fitness 4 Mamas

7 tips for finding time to exercise

How to find time to exercise in a busy life

Like many of you I have a life that feels full. Full of the wonderful, demanding and chaotic time with my family, full of the mundane  housework and shopping, full of amazing friends with whom I can spend some precious adult time. I am fortunate to currently be on maternity leave but soon the pressures and commitment that come with work will intensify the demands on my time.

I am lucky to have all these things clamouring for my time. I may not always feel this when I’ve been up at night with a grumpy baby, trying to cook dinner and entertain a toddler who often needs a potty trip at inopportune moments, but I am grateful that life challenges me to balance so many things on a daily basis.

Finding time to exercise is just another of the challenges resultant from a busy life .

Actually this is a two-part challenge – firstly motivation to exercise is required ( I find this motivation occasionally goes into hiding somewhere under a pillow, much as I would like to after a bad nights sleep).

Secondly, I need time to put this motivation into practice.

I’ll be looking at motivation to exercise later this week, but here are some practical ways to exercise when time is very precious.

7 tips for finding time to exercise

1. Short workouts at home: As the name of my blog implies just finding ‘ten minutes spare’ is often enough to achieve something worthwhile. When I am really struggling to find adequate time I do a ten minute exercise routine that doesn’t require any equipment at home.

2. Exercise DVDs: I’ve already written a little about my experience of learning Pilates at home using exercise DVDs. There are also numerous youtube videos to keep you motivated without needing to attend a gym class.

3. Early morning exercise: At the moment my precious sleep is frequently interrupted by baby Pumpkin so there is little chance of me voluntarily getting out of bed before he is awake. Mr R, however, often does a workout first thing in the morning before the chaos commences for the day.

4. Easily accessible exercise equipment:  Mr R has a bar for pull-ups over a door frame in our house. Glamorous it may not be, not practical and easily accessible it certainly is!

5. Running: I do find that this is one of the most time efficient ways to exercise, its quicker to simply on a pair of trainers and get out the door than to attend a gym. It’s also possible to go whenever you have a spare moment rather than struggling to make a timed class or group.

6. Cycling to work: I am currently on maternity leave but Mr R cycles to work once a week.

7. Walking: I walk on a daily basis, usually pushing a heavy double pushchair. This is not something I would have considered exercise pre-children, but I do now count it as physical exertion. Extra credit if done with a shopping-laden pushchair, one-handedly, whilst clutching a toddlers hand, with a baby strapped to the chest (yes I have done this…on more than one occasion)

Exercise as a new Mum brings extra challenges. Your body has undergone immense changes and it is advisable to wait until after the 6 week post-natal check before commencing a formal exercise regime. Once you have the go-ahead to start working-out the following are some of the options for exercising with a baby.

  • ‘Bring your baby’ exercise classes: There are often local classes organised for Mummies where baby’s can be brought into the exercise room. There are also some classes where babies can be worn in slings
  • Gyms with crèche facilities
  • Outdoor classes where you can exercise with a buggy
  • Home workouts with your baby. I have enjoyed reading the baby wearing workout from breaking muscle.com. I have never personally done any formal exercises whilst baby-wearing, but simply carrying your baby is in itself a form of exercise.

I am constantly inspired by some of my amazing friends and acquaintances who have achieved fantastic exercise and health related goals in their busy lives. Later this week I will be writing about motivation to exercise, which consists of having goals and inspiration. I am blessed to have both reasons to want to remain physically fit and to be surrounded by inspiration.

30 Second Summary: Finding time and motivation to exercise can be a challenge. Here are 7 tips for fitting exercise into a busy life.

Please do let me know if you have any tips for how you manage to find time to exercise in your life when things are busy? I always enjoy reading your comments.

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