Fitness Guide for Single Parents by Sheila Olson


As a single parent, chances are you feel stretched too thin to squeeze in one more thing – too thin in terms of finances, time, and energy.  However, by following these great guidelines you can work in that much needed workout. 

Prioritize your health.  It’s important for you to take care of yourself.  Experts say that as a single parent you are inclined to neglect yourself in order to ensure your children’s needs are being met.  However, if you aren’t getting enough rest, eating right and exercising routinely you can fall victim to a cycle that will leave you emotionally and physically exhausted.  Stress can take over, home environments can lose stability, and the health and wellness of you and your children can decline. 

Model good behavior. As a parent it’s important to set a great example for your children.  Studies cited by Duke Global Health Institute show it’s especially important in the realm of health and wellness.  “Kids whose moms encourage them to exercise and eat well, and model those healthy behaviors themselves, are more likely to be active and healthy eaters.”  They further explain, “Exercise and healthy diets are critical in fighting childhood obesity, a considerable problem in the United States, where over a quarter of kids ages two to five are already overweight or obese.” 

Make space.  You don’t need to invest in a gym membership in order to exercise.  A few well-chosen pieces of equipment and some floor space are all you need to get in a worthwhile workout.  For instance with some dumbbells, a yoga mat, and suspension trainers you can build strength and stamina in a few square feet. 

Take five.  Finding time for your fitness is easier than you think.  With as little as five or ten minutes here and there, the experts at Today explain you can improve your health.  Instead of sitting through commercial breaks drop to your yoga mat for some situps, or snag a cardio workout when you get fifteen minutes between appointments.  Download pilates videos to enjoy during your downtime, or take a brisk walk with the dog.  Experts recommend you aim for about a half hour of activity every day, but doing it in spurts is fine – it all adds up!

Routine. A few tweaks in your daily routine can help you not only find more time to workout, but find more energy for it.  The pros at Health recommend getting up early enough to exercise before the day gets away from you.  Set your alarm a little earlier and when it goes off, turn a lamp on immediately – the light will help you feel more alert.  By the way, hitting the snooze can actually make you feel more tired, so flip on that lamp, don’t snooze!  Another little tip: it can help to exercise at about the same time every day, improving your fitness level more quickly.

With the kids. It’s good for all of us to be active, regardless of age.  Including your kids in your fitness routine allows you to enjoy time together and accommodate your workout on days it’s harder to find time by yourself.  Shoot some hoops, play tag, or dance to their latest favorite tune. 

Play dates. Make arrangements with other single parents for outings that involve exercise.  It’s an opportunity for you and your children to socialize as well as stay fit.  Hiking, ice skating, or zumba are even more fun with friends.  Need some adult-only time?  Make arrangements to meet another parent or two for a workout after the kids head to school. 

Fitness can be yours!  Being healthy is important not only to your own well-being but also your children’s.  A couple pieces of equipment and a few minutes here and there will make you healthier in no time.  Engaging with others (including the kids!) make it more fun and easier to work into your busy days.  By using these great guidelines your family will be happier and healthier!

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