I’ve noticed that exercise occupies a precarious position in the minds of many women I know. Some shun it because they view it as vain, believing it is only a means of losing weight to become more attractive. Others worship it, spending hours each week pushing themselves to extremes to prove they are stronger than their aching muscles. Still others avoid it all together, ignoring health messages because they enjoy the immediate comfort of the couch more than the work that will cause a gradual improvement in their health.
Personally, I’ve made exercise a regular part of my life because I’m well aware of the benefits associated with it. However, since becoming a mom, it has been increasingly difficult to find time to exercise.
Given we already have so much to do, is it really important to make room in our schedules for exercise? What role should exercise play in the lives of busy homemakers?
Exercise and the homemaker
As I noted at the beginning of this post, women have varied views of the purpose of exercise. In my opinion, exercise is about health (decreased risk of heart disease and several cancers, stronger bones, easier weight control, decreased stress and anxiety, etc.). It’s not about looking good or proving we’re tough—it’s about caring for the bodies God gave us. Homemakers aren’t somehow exempt from the need to exercise. We benefit from it as much as anyone else and exercising is one way we can model a healthy lifestyle for our children.
Interestingly, I feel like I’m actually a better homemaker when I get regular exercise. Why? Because I feel less stressed and have more energy. This means I’m patient with my daughter and husband and I’m able to tackle my to-do lists.
Even with so much else to do, I believe exercise is important enough that we should make time for it.
Making time for exercise
- Put it on the calendar. We put important things—dental visits, parent-teacher conferences, parties, etc.—on our calendars. If exercise is important, then it needs to be scheduled, too. After all, it’s rare that we engage in spontaneous workouts. We’re much more likely to exercise when time is set aside for it.
- Exercise by playing with the kids. Playing with our children is a great way to get some exercise. A good game of tag is almost guaranteed to get your heart pumping! Other possibilities include going on walks or bike rides, climbing playground equipment, dancing, playing organized sports, and jumping on a trampoline.
- Exercise in short spurts. Experts say that we don’t have to exercise for long durations. It’s okay if our exercise is spread throughout the week (“ten minutes at a time is fine”), as long as we get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise each week. There are so many ways we can sneak in a few minutes of exercise here and there (do a few crunches before getting in the shower, park at the far end of the parking lot when shopping, do squats while cooking dinner, do a 10 or 15 minute exercise DVD, etc.).
- Plan exercise playdates. It’s often easier to exercise when we have the fellowship and accountability of workout partners. We can get this by using our kids’ playdates as opportunities to exercise! While the kids play, we moms can get in a workout.
- Take advantage of housekeeping tasks. Many housekeeping activities constitute moderate-intensity physical activity, making it a useful way to supplement exercise activities. There are a number of ways we can boost the intensity of housework, thereby increasing its physical fitness benefits (click here for ideas). Not convinced that housework can supplement other exercise activities? Consider that each of these homemaking tasks burns 100 calories:
- Invest in some basic home exercise equipment. We don’t need special equipment to exercise. In fact, walking, an activity that really only requires supportive shoes, provides an excellent workout. However, sometimes it is easier to reach physical fitness goals when we have access to exercise equipment. One way to get this access is to join a gym. Another is to purchase some basic equipment for the home. My husband and I have chosen the latter option. A folding exercise bike, a yoga mat, adjustable weights (hand and ankle), and a weight bench allow me to do some light weight training and aerobic exercise whenever I have a few free minutes.
Have you found a way to fit exercise into your busy schedule? How do you do this?
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