With diapers to change, laundry to wash, meals to prepare, homework to get done and the thousand other jobs our lives involve, parents are some of the busiest people on the planet. However, despite the fact that your schedule is booked and your to-do list seems endless, there’s one more small, but very important item you need to make time for—exercise. Whether you’ve got the ambition to work out every day or can only fit it in a few times a week, here are seven reasons every parent needs to exercise.
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1. It’s a stress buster
Along with all the responsibilities of being a parent come innumerable opportunities to get stressed out and anxious everything on your plate. Squeezing in a daily sweat session can help minimize your worries and just make you feel better about life. Exercise and other forms of physical activity release endorphins, which are known to make you feel good. For example, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America released an interesting statement highlighting that regular aerobic exercise is proven to help reduce tension levels, improve mood, reduce mood swings, and increase self-esteem. Sign me up!
2. Keep up with your kids
As a parent, you know exactly how much energy your kid has, and you know how difficult it can be to keep up with that vigorous little power house. Regular resistance exercise will help keep your body strong enough to handle the rigors of wrestling your child into her car seat, while cardio will give you the stamina to chase after those amazingly quick little legs as they dart away from you in the crowded mall.
3. Save time and money
You may find it easy to convince yourself that you don’t have the time or money to go to the gym every day, or even invest in workout equipment for you home. But if you stop and consider the time and money involved in doctor visits and medical bills for issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity or cancer, it may be a little bit easier to schedule some necessary exercise time into your schedule.
4. Set a good example
As you’ve no doubt noticed, kids are like sponges, soaking up everything going on in their world and just looking for ways to use it in their own little lives. As a parent, you’ve got the opportunity to capitalize on this—lead by example and teach your children healthy habits now, so they can use them throughout the rest of their lives. You may not think your children notice what you do or don’t do, but I assure you that they do. The World Health Organization mentions that active parents have been shown to have more active children, right into adolescence. If you’re worried about being a good parent, take this opportunity to set your child up for a lifetime of good health.
5. You’ll be there for your kids
Whether you choose to embrace it or ignore it, you already know that regular physical activity is one of the simplest ways to improve your chances of living for longer. In fact, one study found that by simply walking briskly for 75 minutes per week, you could expect to add nearly two years onto your life. If you’re ambitious and fulfill the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes per week, you may further increase your life expectancy by 3.5-4.5 years. The longer you’re around, the more time you’ll get to spend with your little monsters—even if those little monsters happen to be in their 40s.
6. Get some me time
Everyone knows you love your children, but sometimes we all just need a break from the chaos and enjoy the space to focus on numero uno. Making it to the gym or even going outside for a walk around the neighborhood will give you time to clear your mind and get back in touch with yourself. Even if you don’t have the luxury of a solo workout—i.e., you’re forced to push a stroller—you can still enjoy getting outdoors and giving that ticker a workout.
7. Get better sleep
Finally, all parents know only too well just how precious each second of uninterrupted sleep can be. Luckily, exercise can improve your quality of sleep. A study published in the journal Mental Health and Physical Activity found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week (which is just 30 minutes per day five days per week) resulted in a 65% improvement in sleep quality.