Attributed to
Healthy living

Staying fit

One thing that tends to come up in conversations with working (single) parents is the lack of time to exercise. To be very honest, I often catch myself finding all sorts of excuses why I cannot exercise as much as I would like to. But, hey, while this can indeed be challenging, especially if children are still small, it is not impossible!

Before getting to concrete tips on how to find time to exercise in your busy schedule, here are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Plan in advance: If your time to exercise is not in your calendar, it will 99.9 per cent not happen. At the same time, remain flexible and do not give up entirely if you miss one day of exercise.
  • Any effort counts: No need to plan a one-hour workout every single day and then beat yourself up for failing to do it. Remember that any exercise is better than nothing! Start small and increase the length/intensity later on.
  • Find your favourite: There is such a variety of physical activities to choose from! From belly-dancing to rock climbing, judo, swimming, yoga… The point is that there’s no need to force yourself to go for a run if you really dislike it! I, for example, am not a big fan of gyms and group workouts; what I enjoy most is a mixture or cardio and strengthening exercises outdoors. So pick your “cup of tea” and your exercise time will become something you look forward too!
  • Exercise regularly: This might be every second day or perhaps only once a week. Keeping to your schedule is the absolute key!
  • Get enough sleep: The detrimental effects of lack of sleep are well known and in no way beneficial for staying in top shape.
  • Eat healthily: No exercise will help if junk food is the menu of the day!

Let’s now see some practical tips on how to squeeze in some time for regular exercise in a busy working week:

  • Early birds’ training: Wake up earlier than usual and exercise. While I must admit that I’m not a world champion at it myself, it’s a great way to start your day.
  • Walk to work: Walk/cycle to your work, get off the bus/tram a few stops earlier… – there are many options to do some exercise even before getting to your desk.
  • While at work – move, move, move!: If your work is rather sedentary, make some conscious effort to move regularly. This might be simply integrating more moving into your work, such as going to talk to a colleague in person instead of using the phone, waking to the printer that is a bit further away, using the stairs etc.  Or else, do some intentional stretching now and then. Also, if you are given the option, go for a standing desk. Remember – no exercise can undo the harmful effects of sitting all day!
  • Exercise at lunch time: Some companies offer lunch-time group workouts that you can take the advantage of. Or else go for a walk/run or visit the nearby gym. Time might be limited, but it can still be done.
  • Once children are in bed: While the energy levels might be low by then, that’s the ideal time to exercise. Take out your yoga mat and let’s go!
  • Sports facilities with childcare options: Service providers are increasingly adapting to the demand and nowadays there are more and more gyms and fitness clubs offering child care facilities. A great thing for anyone interested in this sort of exercise!
  • Doing sports with your little one(s): In my view the most fun of it all! Sure, you need to adapt based on your child’s age but there are so many options – yoga classes, a mountain hike, a cycling trip…, you name it. I love exercising outdoors with my daughter – it’s great watching her doing her best to mimic the exercises and trying to beat me in sprints;-) Remember, leading by example is the key!

Of course this all becomes much easier if you’re lucky enough to have your family nearby that you can rely on for babysitting or a nanny who is flexible enough. But not everyone has this support system.

Lack of motivation anyone? That’s probably one thing that it all boils down to at the end in this excuse-full world of “no time”;-) Luckily, there are so many options to get some extra motivation:

  • Personal trainers: They exists for all sorts of trainings, come to your house at the desired time and “kick you in the butt”. A great option, albeit a fairly costly one, but you can cost-share by inviting a friend/friends to join. Even more fun guaranteed;-)
  • Online workouts: The choice is huge! From free online videos to subscription workout channels with pre-recorded workouts or even live instructors. A varied menu for you to choose from!
  • Fitness trackers: These track your fitness levels and give you some extra encouragement to achieve your daily fitness goals. Mine vibrates to remind me to “take it for a stroll” and treats me with “fireworks” if I attain the x number of steps per day.

Now you’ve got all the tools – it’s up to you to start. No more excuses;-)

I’d love hearing from you on how you reconcile the scarce time available and your goal to stay fit!