Parents and Exercise: Do They Seem Mutually Exclusive?

Most of us have such busy lives; we don’t know how we find time to include one more activity in to the mix.  Now, intensify that with parenting children and you probably want to wave a white flag in surrender of your will to press on. 

When that “one more” activity is fitness, however, not exercising or influencing your children to be active on a daily basis, can very well result in ill health for you and them. 

Motivation is the key cause for parents finding it difficult to exercise regularly, if at all.  “Parents typically don’t get enough sleep and spend their days constantly responding to needs of another human being,” says Dominique Wakefield, a personal trainer and wellness coach based in Berrien Springs, MI. “That combination is emotionally and physically draining, which leads to less motivation for physical activity.  There are so many health benefits that come from being physically active, like reducing your risk for chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease, but it’s especially important for parents to stay fit.  Plus, working out can give you more energy and reduce stress -- extra benefits that parents especially need.”

Additionally, as a role model to your children, you greatly influence their behavior by what you say and do.  So if they see you physically active, they will probably be active as well.

The following are some suggestions to fit in exercise in to your daily activities with your family and on your own:

  • Work out in the morning.  That’s when you have the most willpower and ambition to do it. Also, if you wait until later in the day, plans may get altered and rob you of your “gym” time later on.  Since your kids go to bed early, you can too.  This will give you enough sleep time to have energy for your workout.


  • Include family in your physical activity.  This allows you to spend time with your children and get in a workout for you both.There are many activities to do for all ages, like bike riding, playing ball, walking in the park, etc.  Doing physical activities like running or spinning with friends keeps you accountable and makes the workout more enjoyable.


  • Set smaller goals. Don’t feel that exercise is only good if you spend at least an hour at the gym every day. By making your every-day chores a little more taxing, like taking in one bag of groceries at a time, climbing steps two at a time to raise your heart rate, or doing sets of 10 squats or pushups in between other chores during the day, you could be getting in that much-needed physical activity. For many, it’s easier to find several small blocks of time to devote to exercise than one large one.


  • Keep exercise equipment in view.  Avoid the “out of sight, out of mind” truism by keeping resistance bands, an exercise ball or mat visible in your house.  Seeing them will remind you to use them.

As a parent, exercise should be a user-friendly activity that is part of your daily life.  Doing it for yourself and your kids will reap great rewards for all.