Stay-Fit Strategies for Single Parents
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Sticking to an exercise plan when you’re lacking in time, money, and energy can be tough. And, as a single parent, all three valuable commodities might be in short supply. But staying strong and fit will set a great example for your kids and encourage them to be active alongside you.
That said, committing to an active lifestyle will put your family in the minority among Americans. Statistics show only one in three kids are physically active every day—although government guidelines call for 60 minutes of daily physical activity—and only one in three adults logs the 150 minutes of recommended moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week.
Taking Time for You
Finding 150 minutes on your already-crowded calendar might seem nearly impossible. But it can be less daunting when you think about the time like this: it adds up to a little more than 20 minutes each day. What’s more, exercising will actually give you more energy to take on your to-do-list, so you may recoup the time you invest in working out.
Here are a handful of ideas to squeeze exercise into your daily routine:
Wake up a little earlier each day. Pop in a workout DVD and get your 20 minutes in before the kids get out of bed. You can even wear workout clothes to bed to encourage yourself to get up and moving in the morning.
Make a lunch date with exercise. If you are able to take time away from work during the day, use some of those breaks to schedule a walk or run. You can even take a few trips up and down the stairs if you want to burn some calories indoors. Keep a pair of sneakers and a set of exercise-appropriate clothes handy in case you unexpectedly find yourself with some extra time during the day.
Multitask during TV and phone time. You can do crunches, squats, and lunges while you’re watching the evening news or catching up on your favorite streaming series. And, while you’re on the phone at work or home, try pacing or doing leg lifts during calls.
Embarrass your kids. Next time you take them to sports practice, walk around the school track or run up and down the bleachers. They’ll get over their mortification as soon as a few other parents join in.
Create a Home Health Club
One of the simplest ways to find time for fitness and save money while you’re at it is exercising at home. And you don’t have to confine your workouts to body-weight exercises like crunches and squats. Here are some suggestions for affordable gear to use during at-home workouts:
Yoga mat - Smart shoppers can find mats for less than $15 online. And you can practice poses using the plethora of free yoga routines available online or by downloading affordable apps on your smartphone. Or check out exercise DVDs from the local library to mix up your routine. This versatile piece of equipment will also come in handy for any routine that involves floor exercises.
Dumbbells - Dumbbells are another excellent investment because of their versatility. For example, they can be used for exercises such as overhead presses, arm curls, and tricep extensions. And handheld weights will add an extra challenge to forward lunges, bridges, and squats, just to name a few exercise options.
Resistance bands - These bands are easy to store and take on the road during trips. Like mats and dumbbells, resistance bands are incredibly adaptable. They can be used for bicep curls, side leg lifts, or rows to offer a few examples. Users can also instantly change the resistance on a band by taking up more slack in their hands or shifting their stance if they’ve got a band under foot.
Join a workout class
If time allows, consider joining a group workout class. Group workouts can not only offer a much-needed sweat session, they also allow you the opportunity to build camaraderie with a group of like-minded individuals. Because building new, healthy relationships is as important as your physical health, this is a great way to accomplish both in a fun, happy environment.
You don’t need to devote a lot of time and money to finding an exercise plan that suits your lifestyle. And making physical activity a priority will give you more energy, improve your mental, physical, and emotional health, and give you and your kids a firm foundation toward building and maintaining a healthy, happy family.