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Fit moms

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Mothers tend to neglect their health without realising how important it is to be fit, says Anjali Kalani

It is common knowledge that exercise has tremendous health benefits, including lowering the risk of several diseases. We also know that everyone should exercise regularly. But how many moms actually manage to fit exercise into their busy schedules? There's always something else vying for our attention—our careers, housework, family, visitors.  For most moms, exercise features on the bottom of their priority list.

Although I began a fitness regimen prior to marriage, motherhood led me to truly appreciate the effects of exercise. Not only did I shed the oodles of weight I gained during pregnancy, I also felt invigorated and strong. Besides, exercise released all those happy chemicals on stressful days when I was consumed with raising two children under three. Moreover, it provided me with much needed 'me' time. In fact, exercise continues to be a mainstay for me even today.

As moms we tend to put our family’s needs above our own, forgetting that our families stand to gain the most if we are healthy. In addition, children are more likely to lead an active lifestyle in the present and the future if they see their parents exercising.

Moreover, the resilience our bodies demonstrate in the twenties  begins to wane in the thirties. By the time the forties roll around, maintaining our bodies seems to require more effort than ever. A healthy diet combined with exercise can help combat weight gain. Certified Fitness Instructor, Norma Beavers believes that exercising three days a week helps maintain weight. "But if you want to see results then push to five days," she advises. For those who are in a time crunch, she recommends short bursts of exercise, “like maybe 15 minutes at a time if you can't devote an hour or two at the gym.” She adds, “Low impact walking is probably one of the best exercises” for everyone, including moms recovering after pregnancy or any surgery. 

But there are times when the last thing I want to do is exercise. Here's what motivates me on those days:

  • Choosing an enjoyable activity ensures that I don't procrastinate.
  • Scheduling exercise into my calendar like any other appointment.
  • Exercising with a friend makes time fly by while laughing and sharing confidences.
  • Dressing in gym attire as soon as I return from work gives me one less excuse to avoid working out.
  • Reminding myself that once I get started my initial resistance fades away within minutes.

Furthermore, if you can’t make it to the gym, make fitness fun at home! Turn on some fast-paced music and dance with the children. If you prefer structure, choose from the many home-based workouts available on YouTube or download a fitness App on your phone. However, Beaver recommends using workout videos created by certified instructors to avoid injuries.

My oft-used home-based workouts include the Leslie Sansone walk-at-home videos, which targets all levels of fitness and ages. Her 1 Mile Happy Walk is perfect for hectic days, while her extended workouts are suited for days when I'm not strapped for time. Gaiam, creator of Yoga props and attire, offers several choices for Yoga enthusiasts and if you prefer Pilates, try Pilates Anytime. There’s even the 7 Minute workout app that is true to its name. It features jumping jacks, squats, push-ups and lunges with 10-second breaks between exercises.

Whether it's short bursts of exercise at home, a walk in the park or extended time at the gym, exercise is something one seldom regrets. However, if you are new to exercise, it is important to consult your doctor before embarking upon a fitness regimen. Scheduling time for exercise leads to physical and mental wellness. Besides, it demonstrates to our children that we not only talk the talk, but we literally walk the walk as well!

Anjali Kalani is mother of two independent, precocious children and an AMS and AMI certified Montessori guide who teaches children ages three to six in Houston, Texas.

Short takes

  • As moms we tend to put our family’s needs above our own, forgetting that our families stand to gain the most if we look after our own health.
  • In addition, children are more likely to become active adults if they see their parents exercising.
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