Let’s be honest, it’s not easy being a mum. You become a jack of trades as you juggle everything. You’re a chef, a cheerleader, a teacher and the list goes on. It’s said that there’s no way for you to prepare for parenthood. However, research claims that active parents are better prepared to cope with the daily roles of parenting. The problem is parents aren’t exercising.
A key reason why mums aren’t being more physically active is lack of time. A survey of 1,000 UK adults commissioned by Total Fitness found that 38 percent of parents with young children are struggling to fit in exercise around looking after a family. Even though 42 percent of parents would like to be fitter, only 19 percent regularly work out.
But why is it so important?
The data shows that the tasks for mum can affect your body physically, with 21 percent of parents with a young child reveal they suffer from stiff joints, as a result of lifting and carrying their youngster. As such one in ten of parents with babies admitted they’ve experienced breathlessness or aches from pushing a pram.
It’s not just physically, but your mental health is also being affected. Almost a quarter (24 percent) of parents with young kids confessed they struggle with childcare-related stress. Whilst nearly 22 percent said they often struggle to sleep at night. As a result, one in five (19 percent) parents admitted they can often be irritable and grumpy.
So how does exercise help?
Well, the survey shows that an active lifestyle has a lot of benefits for parents. 21 percent of the parents in the survey agree that exercise or sport helps them cope better with looking after their young kids. While around one in three parents say exercise helps to boost their mood. More than one in four (26 percent) believe regular exercise or playing a sport helps them to cope better with stress.
We spoke to Steven Virtue, Fitness Content and Programming Manager at Total Fitness, who also believes that active parents are better off. “Being a parent to younger children can be physically and emotionally taxing,” says Steven. “You learn to cope with a reduced amount of sleep, disrupted routines and the physical effects of daily activities – and not to mention the strain of lifting babies and toddlers.”
“There are countless benefits to establishing a fitness routine and staying active, as it can help ready yourself for the different roles of parenthood. Functional exercises such as squats and lunges are a great way to strengthen the muscles used when lifting and carrying children. Yoga is another great exercise, as it helps to build core strength whilst also aiding relaxation and stress relief.
“It can be difficult to maintain an exercise routine when you’re balancing family life and work but even a 20-minute workout at your local gym or at home once a week will make a difference. The important thing is finding an exercise and routine that you enjoy and which works for you. This will make your goals easier to stick to.”