The work out guide for busy mums
Are you motivated to exercise, but struggle to squeeze fitness in? Being too busy to exercise is most mums common excuse for not working out, and often for good reason.
Life is hectic and it can be difficult to juggle work with social and family commitments, let alone find the time to squeeze in some exercise or a work out. However, with a little fitness planning and the right approach, you can make the time for that work out. Here's the busy mum's guide to exercise:
Work out tip 1: No guilt and no giving up
'There's no doubt modern-day life makes the maintenance of an exercise program difficult,' says Ashley Gardner, director of PACE Health Management. 'Longer work hours, mortgage stress and the full-time working mother being the norm all mean that, if you are going to achieve your health goals, you need to be determined, strategic and disciplined.'
The first step for a busy mum? Try not to see exercise as all or nothing to motivate you to work out, advises Gardner. While it's great to get 30 or 60 minutes of continuous exercise every day, don't feel discouraged if you can't fit it in and, above all, don't feel bad and give up. Instead, create a plan that fits your lifestyle and incorporate smaller blocks of exercise time with increased intensity.
Work out tip 2: Intensive exercise in small bursts
If you only have time to fit in small bursts of exercise into a busy mum lifestyle, it's important to maximise the benefits. While low-intensity activities like walking are great as part of an overall exercise regimen, you should up the ante if you're pressed time-poor.High-energy aerobic exercise and work outs, such as skipping and running, along with Zumba, spin and step, burn a lot of kilojoules in a short amount of time.
Work out tip 3: Mix up your work out plan
'The most effective exercise for the time poor is interval training,' says Gardner. 'Periods of exercise at a higher intensity, or 'work' rate, followed by periods of 'rest' has been shown to burn the most kilojoules of all.'
Variety in exercise is important if you want to keep challenging your body. Weight training is a really effective way of using limited exercise time and promotes lean muscle growth. Even more importantly, lean muscle burns more kilojoules, weight for weight, than any other type of tissue in the body. Weight training naturally mixes up a time-poor exercise regimen, too.
Work out tip 4: Plan for better body results
The key to squeezing exercise into an already packed mum schedule is planning and having a healthy goal. 'Having a written plan makes you more accountable to yourself and increases the likelihood of you getting the most from your sessions,' explains Gardner. 'Organise and plan the times and days you will exercise and what you will do. Ensure people impacted by these commitments - such as family and colleagues - also have this information so they know what to expect each week.'
Work out tip 5: Boost your daily incidental exercise
Incidental exercise is the kind you get when you're not deliberately working out. Within your daily life as a mum, you might walk, run or stretch as part of performing everyday tasks like housework, and this is classed as incidental exercise.
Before the advent of the car and other technological advances, people did large amounts of incidental exercise. These days, however, most of us get very little. 'In the 1920s, the average person took 15,000 to 20,000 steps a day,' says Warren. 'Today, the average person takes only 3000 to 4000 steps a day. People drive their cars to work, take elevators and escalators, and when they get home use remote controls, clothes driers and other automated household appliances. Work has also become more sedentary for the vast majority of people.'
Incidental exercise at home:
Exercise during television ad breaks, do your own household cleaning, hang the washing out instead of using a drier or venture into the garden during daylight saving hours to boost your levels of incidental exercise.
Incidental exercise with family and friends:
Choose to be more active when socialising with friends and their families. If you take the kids to the park don's sit and watch them - run around with them' it's one of the most enjoyable workouts you can do.'
Incidental exercise at work:
Increase your incidental exercise by joining the growing number of people who are choosing to ride a bike to work. Extra bonus? It helps the planet. If that's inconvenient, take public transport, get off a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way to your office. Once you've arrived, take the stairs and walk to the different departments when you need to talk to a colleague instead of using the phone. Stand up whenever you can in discussions with workmates or when you're on the phone. Why not use your lunch break for some motivation? You can even put the laptop on a high bench so you are standing rather than sitting. Once you make the decision to be more active in the workplace, it's surprising how many opportunities there are to move about.
The busy mum's work out guide - day by day:
- 15-20 minutes of interval walking - start off with 30 seconds of fast walking, followed by 30 seconds of slow walking, then repeat.
- 10 minutes of resistance training - target your tummy, arms and legs with sit-ups, push-ups, lunges and squats.
- 30 minutes of cardio - try an energetic workout like Zumba, step, or even a spin class.
- 15-20 minutes of walking - give yourself a new challenge and walk up some hills and stairs or on sand.
- 10 minutes of resistance training
- 30 minutes (or 2x15 minutes) of an aerobic sport - try tennis, swimming or volleyball for a fast full-body workout.
- 15-20 minutes of interval walking
- 10 minutes of resistance training
- Go for a bush walk or city walk - rally family and friends around, then set off together for a nice long walk.
- 30 minutes bike ride or walk - Get outdoors for brisk exercise.
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This article was originally written by Katherine Chatfield for kidspot.com.au and Weight Watchers as part of their Positively Life Changing initiative and has been adapted for kidspot.co.nz