What's one tip you'd give to moms struggling to make time for physical activity?

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29  Answers

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One thing that really struck me was when someone told me that you would not think about leaving your home without brushing your teeth, so if you think of exercise in the same way, you would not go without some sort of exercise or activity as part of your day. We often think if we don't workout for hours at a time, then we have not been active and the "All-or-nothing" trap is easy to fall into. It is okay to just do a couple of sets of squats during your lunch break if that is all you have time for. Exercise can be anything from walking the dog, to climbing the stairs to the 10th floor of your office block, it does not have to be in the gym. Once you see exercise as a habit and a lifestyle it is easy to find ways to do it. I find that exercise starts as a mindset, and then overflows to how you put it into practice. It is an awareness. If you really want to exercise, you will find a way. If you find it a challenge to fit it into your day, do what you can. Start looking at your time and seeing where you can change habits to accommodate your exercise time. Missing one workout should not be cause for throwing in the towel, or getting discouraged because life happens, kids get sick, holidays mess with our schedules. Progress is a wonderful thing! Knowing that we can pick up and keep on going where we left off is a wonderful and liberating way of looking at exercise. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon, little by little, some here and some there and before you know it, it will be part of your routine and what's more it can become part of your family time too. As women we are hard on ourselves sometimes and we need to show ourselves compassion sometimes and other times we can reach for goals that motivate and challenge us.There will be both on the journey to live active and healthy lives.

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Earlier is better. Sneak in exercise at your first opportunity because inevitably life will get in the way.

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Take time to think of yourself, it is okay to be selfish at times. Activity will refresh us as moms. Find ways to multi-task: run/walk to the store, bike to the park, etc. Engage the family in activity anf make it fun. It takes work at times but it can be done, find other moms to meet and workout with, join a group, find a goal and reach for it.

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You need to schedule the time to do it! Either early in the morning while the kids are asleep, during naptime, or bring the kids along! Get out the stroller, get out the bikes, just go!

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Take advantage of small pockets of available time. Life only gets busier with kids so you have to seize the free moments even if it is just a few minutes. Get up a little earlier and do a 20 minute DVD, find a buddy and walk on your lunch hour, run while the kids are practicing their sports, or simply run around the backyard with your kids. Making time for physical activity does not mean putting hours in a at the gym, it is sneaking it in when you can.

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Pencil in at least 30 min of "you" time for each day in the family calendar. How you spend the 30 minutes is up to you, but remember this (and if possible tape/ magnet it right next to the calendar itself): "I regret this workout" -- said no one, ever.

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My biggest piece of advice is to find something you LOVE to do. Don’t settle for running if you hate it. Don’t go to spin if it makes you unhappy. Try ALL kinds of activities and don’t stop trying until you find something you love. If you love it, you'll make time for it.

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One tip is to fit in 15 minutes twice a day, wherever you can. A quick walk after lunch, a small circuit of 15 squats/lunges/jumping jacks mid morning. Make it a part of your life, not just something that you "have" to do. Another way to fit in fitness is to schedule it in. Take a look at your day and see where you have some time. Waking up 30 minutes earlier in the morning might be all you have to do - get it done and out the way. And lastly, build fitness into your life with your family and friends - walks/hikes with the kids, plan fitness dates with your girlfriends, or plan a healthy tennis game or run with your partner. Make it work for your unique life. Make it your good life!

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Don't set yourself unachievable goals. If you are having trouble including physical activity into your busy schedule, just take some baby-steps. Set your goal at one workout per week until that one workout is a firmly established part of your routine, then increase it slowly from there. Come read more about taking some baby-steps when goal setting over at www.theactivemum.com

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If you have small children, try to get your exercise in while they are napping or after they've gone to bed at night. Also, try taking them with you! If you have a stroller, strap them in and take them for a brisk walk around your neighborhood or your local walking trail. Sometimes breaking your routine up into smaller workouts make it easier. Fifteen minutes in the morning and 15 in the evening will get you 30 minutes in for the day. If you have older children, invite them to exercise with you or go outside and play tag. They'll love it and I bet you'll get in plenty of cardio! On the weekends, make it a family affair and find something active for everyone to get involved in.

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When moms are struggling to make time for physical activity, I ask them to consider it an investment in your family. You are not just benefitting yourself by making time for physical activity. I know that I am a much happier, reasonable, patient, and responsive individual when I make the time to work out. I am sure my daughter and husband would much rather be around me when I have had to opportunity to workout. Additionally, making time to be active will hopefully give your children the boost to become more physically fit since they often will view their parents as a positive role model. And it doesn't hurt to make physical activity something you can do with your significant other, children, or other family members. By incorporating the whole family, it may be easier to "make time for it." All in all, by incorporating physical activity into your family life, you will hopefully feel more satisfied and happy while gaining a sense of renewal and stress relief.

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Wake up in the morning and make it your first priority. Even if it's just 20 minutes of training, it's good enough! A healthy mom is a happy mom.

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Find "the thing" that you enjoy doing for exercise. It may not be what everyone else is doing, or even what may give you the best results (right now)! If you aren't doing it (consistently!) then it doesn't matter how awesome it is! Once you find "the thing" that keeps you going, you'll have less trouble finding time for it, staying motivated during it and getting bored with it. Be patient! It may take you going through a few things before you find it, but I assure you, there is SOMETHING out there for everyone!

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As moms, time is the toughest challenge we face every day. When pulled in a million directions it is difficult to find the time to be active. Make sure it's a schedule part of your day. More importantly, make sure it is scheduled at a realistic time. If you're not a morning person, you won't get up at 5:00 and are setting yourself up for failure.

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Don't worry if you don't have time for a 1 hour workout. Try to get in small bits of exercise during your day. 10 minutes, 3 times a day is all you need. Try alternating jumping jacks with high knees or go outside and jump rope with your kids. Start small.

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Plan it just like you would your children's soccer practice. Put in on the calendar and don't be afraid to get creative. 30 minutes a day can easily be broken up into 3 ten minute sessions. Also you can try changing up your routine. Get up 30 minutes earlier for one reason and one reason only..FOR YOU!

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It's so true for many moms that the first thing to go out the window when you have kids is exercise. I know that's true for me. I tend to let everything else take priority--work, kids, house, errands, volunteering--at the peril of my physical well-being. My sister-in-law, who is a working mom with twins, taught me that you have to shift your priorities. Being fit and healthy is one of the most important things we can do for our kids. We'll be happy in the short term and healthy in the long term. For me, one of the best ways to ensure I keep exercise at the top of my priority list is to sign up for a class. I'm doing a boot camp right now and it's kicking my butt! I find that if I'm on a roster and I've paid for the class, I'll go. For me, it's easier than self-motivating every day.

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Being a busy mom, it's sometimes hard to fit in a workout in an already jam packed day. Sometimes the workout is the first thing that gets left behind. Unfortunately, your workout is one of the things that should be highest on your list. Working out helps you be the best you can be. Nothing is better than a healthy, happy mom. If you don't take care of your health, you won't be there to play and be active for your kids. Isn't that what we want for our children? To be healthy and active adults. We need to be their example. So, go out and get your sweat on and let the dishes sit in the sink for another hour. Don't worry, they will be there when you get back:)

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Schedule your workouts like appointments. Make a deal with yourself to do the workout for at least 5 minutes and then you can stop if you don't feel like finishing the workout. I guarantee once you change and start your workout you will finish it. Remember it takes 21 days to form a habit!! You will feel so great after those 21 days you will wonder why you hadn't been working out all along.

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Physical activity can be cumulative - which means doing a little through out the day allows you to get your time in. Start by carving out 15 minutes for YOU! Then, once you get used to doing that, carve out another 15 minutes at a different time during the day. Use that time to walk briskly, do a quick exercise routine, skip (yes, skipping burns a TON of calories), or whatever you want. Make sure you do something that is fun and will rejuvenate you. You will look forward to those 15 minutes every day!

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It is easy to make excuses about fitting a workout into your schedule when you don't have a goal for yourself. When I am having a difficult time staying motivated I choose a race or choose a mileage goal for running for my week. Once you have a goal established it becomes a lot easier to get into a routine. Once you get started you will start to feel more energized and will reap the positive physical and emotional rewards of being active.

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If you are attached, swap exercise nights with your partner during the week. For instance, Tuesday night is my night for yoga class; Thursday is my husband's night to go to the gym. On the weekends, make exercise a family affair with a family hike or bike ride. If you work, take advantage of your lunch hour to workout a few times per week. If you are a stay-at-home mom, don't underestimate the impact of a daily power walk with the stroller. Heading to the playground? Do squats, lunges and push-ups while your kid(s) run around. Find what you love, mix it up and break a sweat. You'd be surprised at where you can squeeze in 30 plus minutes of physical exercise per day.

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Staying active is important...way too important to only give one tip! Hope it's okay that I listed 3....

1. Try to incorporate physical activity into something you are already doing so that it doesn't take up as much "extra" time. Got some phone calls to make? Throw on your bluetooth and make those calls while you powerwalk the neighborhood! Do some squats and lunges in the kitchen while you wait for that pot of water to boil!
2. Make it a family affair. Make physical activity a priority during your time as a family. Instead of watching TV after dinner, take a family walk/jog/bike ride. Plan a family hiking, snow shoe, or biking adventure for the weekend. Not only will you become a fitter mom, but you'll show your kids by your actions that physical activity is important.
3. Ask for help. Is there another mom in your neighborhood/playgroup/church that is looking to get more active as well? She'd probably be a great workout partner, and you can help hold each other accountable. If exercising with the kids is hard (ie they are too big for a stroller, but too young to jog/bike with you), then you and the other mom can take turns watching each other's kids a couple of times per week so that you each can enjoy some "mommy fitness" time.
I hope this helps! Making the effort to include fitness in your routine is well worth the effort - you won't be sorry you did!

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Be flexible!
Physical activity needs to be a daily habit. As a mom, you just have to find the time. Scheduling a trip to the gym, or a morning run is not always going to possible. Have a plan and have a back-up plan. There is no set rules, just find the time, or make the time. Wake up early, take the kids on a walk or run with you, utilize the daycare at your gym. Be flexible, so that you aren't discouraged when your 'plan' didn't work out. There are some awesome workout DVD's on the market that have 10 minute workouts. Fit in 3 of those SOMEWHERE throughout the day. You just have to make time for you.

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Firstly, don't feel guilty if you can't always find the time. Guilt is a serious motivation killer. Stay positive and do something achievable (like a 30 minute walk with the pram everyday). Or find a friend to exercise with. It is always easier to stay fit in the company of others.

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Every little bit helps. Don't get bogged down by thinking you need an hour every day. Do what you can when you can and be proud!

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Don't wait for the opportunity to present itself to you. Take control of your workout time the way you take control of your fighting children. Book that time, and prioritize it as something that needs to be done, not something that you'll do if you have time (let's face it...there's never enough time). Be resourceful and don't ever be afraid to ask for help. Remember that you deserve this time and taking care of you will help you be a better, more patient parent to your kids.

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Schedule it in and make it fun! Most busy moms don't have the free time to workout, they make the time. Just like any other activity, you need to make sure that you allow time for physical activity. By viewing workouts along the same lines as you view taking the kiddos to school, cooking meals, going to work, things you do because you have to do them, you'll be more likely to actually do it. Having a plan is one of the best ways to ensure that you get the time you need. Share your plans with family and friends to help with accountability. Never feel bad about taking that time either. Moms need time to stay active just like everyone else! A fit, healthy mom is a happy one...and as we all know, a happy mom makes a happy family. And always make your workouts fun. If you look forward to going on your run or going to class at the gym you'll find it's easier to make time to go.

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If you make your health a priority, you will find ways to incorporate physical activity each week. Find an activity that you really enjoy, and then schedule it into your week. You could utilize the gym child care to catch a favorite group class, or take your child with you for a walk or run in the jogging stroller. Walk to the playground and play with your kids, adding squats, calf raises and lunges or swing from the monkey bars.

Once you get into the habit of exercise, the benefits will keep you coming back for more. You'll feel more energized, stronger, more balanced, and will have the satisfaction of doing something for yourself that feels good.

Finally, set realistic goals for yourself and write them down. Have time tables, such as a 5k at the end of the month, or adding one extra day of strength training a week. Record your progress in a journal or an online tool like http://www.sparkpeople.com/ or http://www.dailymile.com/ for accountability.

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