Developing the Exercise Habit
Written by Stacy K, Contributing Writer
Every new year many of us vow to exercise regularly and get in shape for good. Some wish to shed the extra pounds that crept on over the holiday season, others want to improve heart health, or simply feel more energized. Whatever your reason, striving to exercise on a regular basis is a worthy goal.
Exercise boasts many benefits beyond making our outsides look good. Such as:
- Mental clarity
- Increased ability to deal with stress
- Boosted serotonin levels leading to improved mood (a happy mom is always a good thing to have around)
- Better sleep
- More inclined to “love” your husband
- Increased energy levels
- Makes everyday tasks (like lifting and chasing children) easier
We can discuss the benefits of exercise all day, but when the rubber meets the road, how are we going to accomplish a regular workout with kids underfoot, mouths to feed, and clothes to wash?
How does a keeper of the home find time to workout?
It’s not easy (at first). But it can be done. And it does get easier.
Here are my three best tips for finding time to exercise and making it a lifelong habit:
1. Think ahead about WHEN and HOW you will exercise.
Image by Maxime Perron Caissy
Plan it. Pencil it in. Treat it like an appointment.
Mom getting regular exercise is going to benefit the whole family, so don’t be too quick to leave it off your to-do list.
If you are serious about making exercise a regular part of your life, you need to think about the details. What will the kids do while you exercise? What type of workout will you do? Where are your shoes?
It can be a challenge with little ones around, but with some pre-planning, it is possible.
2. Find something you enjoy.
I have a workout DVD that is thoroughly enjoyable (for me) . It doesn’t feel like exercise when I do it because I’m having fun. Why would I put myself through a run on the treadmill (which I do not enjoy) when I can do something that makes me smile?
This is one of the biggest keys to sticking with exercise. You can only push yourself to do something you despise for so long. Find something you love and you will actually look forward to working out.
Try different things and see what you like. Find out what others enjoy and see if it might be a good fit for you too.
Workout DVDs are a good fit for me, they are always accessible and can be used on my schedule. I have experimented with a variety of at-home workouts to find the ones that suit me best. There are a number of DVDs available for rent through netflix and at the local library, so it is possible to “try before you buy”. It is also great to ask your friends for recommendations.
3. Make exercise a part of everyday family life.
Image by Gadgetdude
Finding time to be alone is not always possible for mommas. Becoming more active as a family is one way to ensure you all reap the benefits exercise has to offer.
Kids love tradition and routine and can be great accountability partners. If you take a walk every Thursday afternoon, they may be the ones to keep you to it when you don’t feel like going.
Kids LOVE it when mom and dad play with them, instead of just watching; be sure to get in on the fun and throw the ball around, play tag, or ride bikes together.
Family walks are also a great way to get out and enjoy God’s creation. Making walks a part of your routine and taking them around the same time each day helps make them actually happen!
One of our favorite family games is to turn on the music and have each person take a turn being the leader. We pretend we are in an exercise class and do what the teacher says. It is often quite hilarious!
If you are just beginning to carve out time for regular exercise, I encourage you to go slow. Successfully establishing the workout habit is more likely when you ease into it. Jumping in and doing too much too soon often leads to burn out and injury. But don’t worry, your body will adapt quickly and you’ll soon be feeling good!
Is making time for regular exercise one of your goals? How do you stay active as a family?
Top image by lululemonathletica
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Great article. I agree and being a diabetic I agree even more. I just found I am pregnant and I have a 4 yr old. I usually try to get my workout in before the rest of the house wakes, but I know that isn’t always possible. Even just a walk everyday with the kiddos is great just to get your blood moving. This is a must for everyone. You and your family will be much happier you did.
i find exercise is so important, not just for my health, but for my sanity! I tried walking in the mornings, but whenever the time change causes the mornings to be real dark I wouldn’t walk since my neighborhood has no street lights and is secluded. My husband and I made the decision to go ahead and spend the money on a gym membership. We run a tight budget, but find it’s worth it! I get to the gym at 5:30 and get home and shower before all the kids get up. It’s nice to have that time to myself. 🙂
Plus, knowing I’m spending money to attend, makes it more motivation for me to go. I hate wasting money!!
Stacy- You hit the nail on the head! Great article… and so true and timely.. start of a new year and all….
Always being active in sports and various physical activity throughout my 60 years…
I have found regular exercise to be very beneficial to my overall health and even mental clarity…
The one thing most people do that I noticed when I was a physical trainer for a health club was , as you pointed out, ‘run the marathon before they walked’; if you will…
Planning it being #1 and charting your progress with setting goals is so important- and starting out slow and increasing gradually is probably the most important thing one can do… besides doing something that is fun and you look forward to…
Tennis is my main form of exercise and has become one of my passions, great stress relief also…and at 60 play 4-5 times weekly and competitively with all ages…
Your article was basic and simple and so true…surely it will help anyone that does read it and follows your advice… The only thing I might add, besides agreeing with all you wrote, is increased water and change, if needed, in diet for things that can help one sustain their workouts and increase the benefits from them…. thanks for sharing.. paul
I am just getting into exercise again. My twins are 3 1/2 and I have a 6 month old. It is a challenge but I also found a DVD I like and joined a blog that challenges you to go (walk, run, bike, swim) 500 miles in 2011. It is motivating because I have to turn in my progress every Saturday. Great post btw thanks for the tips.
I love the feeling my body has after exercising. I start off my day with my little exercise routine, so I know I got it done and it can’t be pushed off the agenda because something else came up. It’s a great thing to do before my monkeys wake up and start needing me.
I do a bootcamp class at 5:30am 2 days a week and try to go for walks as much as possible. I don’t have any children yet so its easier for me to plan exercise, although i think when i have children i will try to continue with bootcamp because it would be before anyone wakes up anyways. 🙂
Ps. thanks for the tips steph, i love receiving your emails each day! 😀
oh my goodness..sorry this was stacy writing the article. My apologizes. I thanked steph for it by accident!
@Alison, No problem, it’s an easy mistake! And you’re welcome, of course. 🙂
Great article! This year, my oldest daughter is in 1st grade and my younger daughter is in preschool. The elementary school is only half a mile from our house. So pretty much every school day my preschooler rides her scooter and I walk/jog beside her to pick up her older sister. Then we all walk home together. It isn’t much, but it keeps me moving. (And during the summer we love doing family bike rides!)
Another thing that I find very helpful is finding a friend to exercise with. Looking back, every time I have been most consistent exercising, it has been when I have had a friend to going walking with. Right now I walk with a friend Mondays and Wednesdays.
And yes, this is one of my goals! I have made a goal for myself this year to run a 5k. It is one of the shortest runs out there and I know it is an attainable goal for me.
I long to exercise but right now have been told by my Dr. to only exercise 10 minutes every other day, at the most. I find it hard doing that, but I also find it hard sometimes to find a way to do even that.
I would love to hear what DVDs you use for workouts.
@Nola, What about a very short yoga or pilates routine? I have this one (sorry, I’m at the coffee shop right now, so I can’t remember what it’s called– email me if you want the name) and you can do routines that are anywhere from about 6 minutes to 20 minutes, depending on what you want to do. My pregnancy yoga is also nice and easy, but still gets you moving, and I break it down into 20 minute segments, and you could do even less if you needed to (it’s by Gaiam, I think it’s just Pregnancy Yoga by Shiva Rea– just skip the intro and relaxation at the end to miss the spiritual stuff).
@Nola, nola- my husband and i write a christian health and fitness blog, and he posts 10 minute workouts for people to do. this might help give you some ideas!
@Nola, When I have been sick or coming out of a season of very little exercise, I like to use Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home DVDs. My kids can do them with me. I’ve even done one with a baby in the bjorn. I think soem of them have 10 minute segments. If not, you can always turn it off after 10 minutes, I have done that.
Right now I am using some videos from Beachbody. They make P90X and other things. I find their workouts very effective. I am sometimes disappointed by the choice of song or an outfit worn (not modest). Another favorite of theirs is Slim in 6. It’s has three levels and is very good.
I LOVE workout DVDs becuase it can be really hard for me to go anywhere. I feel in control of my time with them and also like that I don’t have to think much about my workout; just press play.
Another thing I sometimes do is random exercises throughout the day. By this I mean getting the weights and doing some curls while I’m watching the kids draw. Or doing squats while I’m standing around observing some other activity. It all adds up!
@Stacy @ Delighting in the Days, Sorry for all the spelling errors! I’m having internet trouble and didn’t save my edits!!
I’m not entirely convinced that “exercise,” the way people usually do it, is really the best idea. But I do think we need to get off our butts and get moving. For me, now, the best way to do it is to just chase the children or run around with them. I’m not really inclined towards any formal exercise at this time. If, however, I could take a dance class or go swimming regularly, I’d love that, but I don’t have access to a pool and I’m always pregnant or have a newborn so classes are out!
I think keeping active daily, even if it is just running with kids, walking the mall, or doing chores on your feet, is great.
@Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama, I totally agree that it doesn’t have to be formal exercising. In the summer, I garden a lot and go for walks, and I count that my exercise.
In the winter I get more formal about it with videos, because otherwise it just doesn’t happen. I live in a rainy, dreary location and I just struggle to be active in the winter.
I agree about finding something that you love doing, and making it a firm part of your schedule. That has really worked for me. Personally, I also love videos because I don’t have to get up and go anywhere (which is difficult when you have littles), they’re low cost and low commitment, I can choose short or long, I don’t have to buy or maintain any fancy machines.
Right now, I’m using the 30-day shred by Jillian Michaels. I’ve also had seasons where I really loved doing pilates. When I’m pregnant, I switch over to my favorite pregnancy yoga DVD. I even have a kids video called Rainy Day Recess that gives my kids a workout on rainy West Coast days. 🙂
I do my exercising in the morning, a couple times a week. I’d like to do more, but that’s all I can manage for now. I’ve been off track the last month or two, but I feel so much better when I’m doing it that I can’t wait to get back to it!
@Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home, I feel much better when I am exercising regularly too. The great thing is it doesn’t take long for that feeling to come once you start working out on a regular basis. I also find that it doesn’t take long to feel sluggish when I stop moving around a few times a week!
I hate to exercise. I hate changing my clothes, lacing up my shoes, getting sweaty, feeling wiped out afterwords and wanting a nap. 🙂 I love a nice walk on a beautiful summer day, but I live in Alaska, so that is VERY short lived exercise plan. Right now T-Tapp is very motivating (I lost a bunch of inches this summer in a very short period of time), rehabilitating (I don’t favor my right knee anymore), and short (the basic workout is 15-18 minutes). That doesn’t help with the sweat, energy, and clothes thing! I REALLY need to do it more diligently, though. Both my children (born and unborn) need me to!
For busy moms out there, know that even 10 minute workouts several times a week can make a difference. When my husband and I took in 4 foster kids, i went from running 10+ miles a week to almost nothing. But recently my husband (who is a personal trainer) has made me a bunch of different 10 minute workouts. Going from 0 to 4 kids has made me busy, but not so busy that I cant fit in 10 minutes several times throughout the week. Believe it or not, these short workouts not only get me sweaty but also make me sore the next day (I personally like that feeling, makes me feel like I accomplished something!)
Here is a link (i also posted it above) to one of the 10 minute workouts he made, and more will continue to be posted on our blog in the coming weeks!
@Sarah, I love your comment. I know I keep hearing that I need to workout 1-2 hours a day to lose weight, but I’m sorry, I DO NOT have 1-2 hours to workout. I found some awesome DVD’s that are 12 minute(Denise Austin Daily Dozen), 20 minute and 30 minute workouts (Biggest Loser and Dancing with the stars) and I love them. And they work me out!!
thank you for a great post. I used to really enjoy exercising, but then getting married, having kids, etc..I got out of the habit, put on 40 pounds from my pregnancies which makes working out harder. I’ve been trying to get back on track. Thank you for the encouragement and the tips!
I have found this habit to be so hard to form and so easy to break for me! I know I stay busy caring for our three children, but I notice how much better I feel when I do formal exercising. Right now, I’m trying to get back into the habit of jumping on my mini trampoline for a while and then doing some stretches and tummy toners. All in all, it only takes maybe 15 minutes, but I still seem to have trouble accomplishing it.
Thanks for the extra encouragement!
One of the ways I’ve added exercise into our day is by getting kid’s videos that promote movement, dance or yoga. We’ve got a couple that we love, and I put it on in the morning after everyone’s had breakfast. Even though it’s for kids, I have fun joining in! I can usually get 20-30 minutes of moving in this way, the kids are entertained and are also getting movement!
We have one of these from the library that we LOVE: http://yogakids.com/ — I think I need to break down and buy them because otherwise the library will never get them back! LOL It says 3-6, but my 7 yr old specifically said it should say older because he loves them too!
What a fabulous post!
We are on the wii fit almost everyday. It may seem silly but the time just flies by and it’s so much fun. We crack up all the time!
We also love taking our dogs for walks. We are fortunate enough to have a few acres of forest on our property so we hike through there a lot, too.