What’s the number one reason folks give for unsuccessfully getting in shape? You guessed it. It‘s, “I just don’t have the time.” And, believe me, I understand. After all, it’s true. You don’t have the time. I don’t have the time either. No one does, really.
The truth is that unless you win the lottery you’ll likely never have all the time in the world to exercise. You have to make time. For some it might be getting up early and finishing a run before the kids are awake. For others it might mean hitting the gym during their lunch break or working out at night after the kids are in bed. And, yes, that’s tough. But I have some good news for you: it can be done, and it doesn’t have to take as much time as you think. You don’t have to exercise 2 hours a day to lose weight and improve your health. When you’re a busy parent, you should take advantage of the activities that give you the most bang for your buck. Here are a few tips:
GO HARD: Only have time for a quick 20 minute run? Run as fast as you can. Only have 20 minutes for the gym? Go from one movement to the next without taking breaks. Intensity matters a lot, and it’ll be over shortly. If you only have a short amount of time to exercise than make it count!
THINK DOUBLE DUTY: Need to walk the dog? Throw on sneakers and run the dog. Need to get the kids out of the house? Put them in the wagon and speed walk ‘em around town as fast as you can. Want to go for a hike, but not sure what to do with the toddler? Get a child carrier/climbing pack and hit the trail. Kids love being outside and they love spending time with you; making them part of your exercise routine is a great way to spend time with them while getting in the exercise you need.
TRY THESE TWO EXERCISES: Not all activities are created equally. Some exercises simply give you more bang for your buck than others. So here are two worth trying that, when done properly, will push you to your limits in a short amount of time. Plus, as an added bonus, they don’t require access to a gym or expensive equipment.
– Bodyweight Training: Have you ever noticed that Olympic gymnasts are incredibly muscular and strong? Funny thing is, they don’t touch weights. The discipline of gymnastics – as well as many other sports like martial arts and popular fitness routines like P90x and CrossFit – are built on the very simple fundamentals of body weight training, which is exactly what it sounds like: body movements that take advantage of your own bodyweight to build strength and balance. Pushups, pull-ups, sit-ups, etc. all fall into this category. When done correctly, a bodyweight routine will absolutely kick your butt in a short amount of time. To get started, go online, Google the term “body weight workouts” and get to work. Eventually you may want to invest in a few simple items like a medicine ball or a chin-up bar, but you don’t need to, and bodyweight training can be done in the convenience of your own home. The beauty of bodyweight is that it’s accessible enough for beginners, but demanding enough to truly challenge you for the rest of your life.
– Trail Running: Running is great full-body exercise that also gets your cardiovascular system pumping while burning lots of calories. Trail Running takes it to the next level by pushing your mental and physical agility while delivering a more complete full-body workout. Plus, you get to enjoy the refreshing beauty of nature. How to get started? Simply lace up your shoes and hit a local trail! Start out conservatively, and enjoy the process. Running through roots and rocks may seem daunting at first, but you’ll become a pro in no time. Want some pointers? Simply Google “trail running tips”. Believe me, a 20 minute run up hills on technical trails -vs.- a 20 minute run down the sidewalk will give you significantly more bang for your buck every time. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s easier on your joints.
This is the latest installment (for the week of 2/3/2013) of my weekly syndicated column “THE PARENT ATHLETE” – a Health & Wellness Column for Busy Parents. You can read it in print and online in various locations. If you are interested in carrying my column in your own paper or website, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.