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Single-parent guide to fitness: Health tips for the busy parent

March 29, 2018

There is no greater juggling act than having to juggle all the elements of parenting by yourself. There are millions of single parents out there completing the difficult tasks of raising children in addition to their work, house duties, and personal lives. It might seem almost impossible to find time for working out, but some tips on how to organize your time might help change that misconception.

Exercise and eating right will not only increase health; they will increase longevity, vitality, and quality of life. If you don’t feel strong and healthy, you will not be the best parent possible. So, staying on top of your own fitness is not just about fitting into your clothes. It affects your ability to perform the difficult job you face every day.

Organize and Prioritize

Organizing your ever-busy day is all about changing your approach to time. Instead of convincing yourself that “there isn’t enough time,” try to be more creative in how you fit tasks and jobs into your day. Think of ways you can be efficient with things you need to do and using that time wisely. Replace unproductive habits (think, social media, television, mindless internet surfing) with more productive ones. Fitness magazine has a few ideas on how to squeeze in a workout. These include:

  • Using your commute: If possible, consider jogging to or from work, riding a bike, or walking.
  • Starting early: By simply setting your alarm for half an hour earlier, you can sneak in a workout before you start the day.
  • Using the office: If you have an hour lunch break, split it into two and go for a quick walk or jog before eating your lunch.
  • Avoiding couches: Instead of sitting down and watching the news, get moving as you watch. Here are a few ideas on quick 5-minute workouts you can do in front of the tube.
  • Taking the kids: Use Saturday and Sunday mornings as a great time to bond with the kids by getting them up early and setting off on a family bike ride or walk.

Home Workout Tips

You don’t always need to have a gym membership or expensive equipment to get a good workout at home. You can build your own home gym based on your goals and budget. There are plenty of ways to get a full-body workout while in your home, using only minimal equipment like jump ropes and resistance bands.  Buzzfeed has compiled a list of the only 12 exercises you need to stay in shape and that can serve as a foundation for your home workouts. Some of these movements include push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, and burpees.

Many of these exercises can be done with your kids, at the park, or while they play in the backyard. Basic equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, and even door-frame pull-up bars can be a great way to start. This equipment is affordable, portable, and very durable, while requiring minimal space. For example, Huffington Post reports that kettlebells are a great way to enhance workouts. Here are some reasons for incorporating kettlebells into your workout:

  • They can be added to some of the body-weight movements like squats to add resistance.
  • Kettlebell swings are a full-body workout: This type of exercise will work legs, back, and shoulders.
  • Exercises using the kettlebell implement cardio and strength. This will get your heart going while strengthening muscles.

Multitask for Movement

You can also get in some much-needed exercise or movement while doing other tasks. According to ABC News, your daily workout can be done in pieces. If you find it impossible to set aside 30 minutes or an hour at a time, consider splitting it into 15-minute sessions.  Take 15 minutes to do an intense routine of push-ups and squats, and then repeat it at night.

As a single parent, every hour of the day is valuable. Designating one hour in your busy schedule or a couple 15-minute sessions can not only make you a better parent but prepare you for the unexpected surprises of raising kids. It can also increase feelings of well-being throughout your life. This way you can enjoy life as your kids grow up, and the hard work pays off.

Article written by single dad, Daniel Sherwin of DadSolo.com