How do you feel when you hear the word “exercise”? Energised? Blah? It carries a lot of pressure. And life changes in so many ways after having kids. New sleep patterns, different work schedules, and having to keep an eagle eye on our kids can mean we need to find new ways to fit it all in. And we do have to! Exercise (and laughter!) is the best medicine – it can delay onset of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, it can reverse some symptoms of diabetes, it can help with digestion, can be a way of getting your daily dose of vitamin D, and helps build healthy bones and muscles. It can also improve your mood, reduce stress, improve sleep, and help with mental health challenges…and with parenting! Exercise may seem taxing, but it can make you feel more energetic. Confident. Like a bit of a superhero.
Funny that it’s not always our priority when it is so good for us. In fact, some people don’t only hate exercise – they detest it. Others love it, but just don’t have the time. Or the motivation.
The way we talk about exercise doesn’t help. Harsh expectations around body shapes and diet are amplified after having kids. Pressure to “bounce back”. Treating exercise as a tool to change the body… instead of an experience to enjoy! Keeping the kids healthy is a priority – so we have to do the same for ourselves too. But, if you’re going through a challenging time, finding time for exercise can feel unrealistic or like additional pressure you just don’t need. In fact, one of top reason why Australian’s don’t exercise is feeling like they have no time, especially among people with kids.
So, let’s forget the word ‘exercise’ for a moment. Let’s think about moving. Simple ways to move the body throughout the day. Bite sized and spontaneous moments like lifting the baby, taking the stairs, meeting another parent in the park, walking to the school gates, throwing a ball with the kids – there are probably already lots of ways that you get your body moving without even realising it. And these should be celebrated! Because if we forget about using exercise as a tool for weight loss or sticking to a strict routine and just enjoy the feeling it brings our bodies, then we can start to love it – if we find what works for us. And if we can feel good about moving our bodies, then our kids will too.
And on the days when we’re struggling to get moving just taking notice of how we feel in our skin can help. Get out into nature – your backyard if you have one, on the balcony with the potted fern, or in your local park. You’d be surprised how much better life seems with some green stuff around you. Take the time to notice how the wind feels against your face and listen to the crunch of leaves underfoot. And when you’re done moving, head home and savour a hot shower. (But make it a short one because….the drought.) We’ve whipped up a resource so you can take time to think about ways to move your body. You and the whole family might even like to fill one out each and chat about new ways to get your bodies moving. Download these below and print them out at your local library or community center. And join in this month’s conversation on Facebook!