Physical fitness is essential to your daily life, affecting your sleep and eating habits. Finding time for exercise and healthy eating can be difficult as a parent. When you get home from a long day, it may be tempting to order takeout and call it a night. However, finding small ways to improve your health and fitness will do wonders for you and your family.

A lifestyle of physical fitness is within your reach. Here are four simple ways to maintain fitness while caring for your kids.

1. Fit Exercise Into Your Day

Physical fitness starts with exercise. Here are a few ways you can incorporate exercise into your day and get healthier.

Find Family Activities

Exercise is a lot more fun when you see your kids enjoying themselves with you. Find family-friendly activities you can do in the backyard or out in the community. Set up a basketball hoop or break out the badminton net for a fun hour of exercise.

Get the family involved by finding a sport everyone can play. For example, pickleball is a sport rapidly gaining popularity in the U.S. Playing this sport is easy, so get the kids a paddle and find a court near you. Do your kids play team sports throughout the year? Set up a backyard practice field to exercise and help your kids improve their abilities.

Do Quick Exercises

It’s no secret that parenting occupies much of your day. Parents of young children especially don’t have much free time for themselves. You may have short moments of downtime during the day, leaving you time for quick exercises.

For example, try high-intensity interval training (HIIT). These workouts take between 10 and 30 minutes, so it’s ideal to do when the kids are napping or busy doing their homework. HIIT aims to burn calories quickly and improve your cardiovascular health. A 2019 study finds HIIT burns 28.5% more fat than moderately intense exercise.  

Use Active Chores

Exercise doesn’t always have to come from treadmills and dumbbells. Find active chores to get your body moving because your body burns calories while vacuuming, mopping and doing other household duties.

Use chores as an excuse to get outside. Nearly 35% of American adults lack adequate vitamin D, so feel the sunshine on your skin as you garden, rake leaves or wash the car. 

2. Make Mealtime Healthier and More Fun

Diet is another significant part of your fitness. The foods you eat directly affect your energy levels, so be vigilant of what you consume. However, your dinners don’t have to be boring. Make mealtime fun with these three ideas.

Eat Healthier Foods

Your physical fitness depends on the dinner table, so it helps to eat healthier foods throughout the day instead of less nutritious items. You don’t have to change your diet wholesale — simple swaps can make your dinner healthy and taste just as good.

For example, do you like to make burgers throughout the week? Use salmon or tuna instead of ground beef for your patties. Fish has healthy fats and protein and is excellent for your body. A Harvard University study finds eating six ounces of fish reduces the risk of heart disease by 36%.

Get the Kids Involved

You or your partner are likely the chefs at home, but you can make cooking a family activity. At least once weekly, gather your kids in the kitchen and allow them to help in small ways to make dinnertime easier. For example, they can bring ingredients to you as requested or put dirty dishes and silverware into the dishwasher. 

How can you use this time to improve your fitness? Put your family’s favorite music on and have a dance party in the kitchen — safely, of course. Get your body moving while sauteeing chicken or mixing ingredients in a bowl.

Consider a Meal-kit Service

After work, piano lessons and soccer practice, you might not have time to prepare a Michelin-star meal. At this point, it helps to have a meal-kit service at your side. If you go this route, find food boxes with healthy options you and your family will eat.

3. Find What Limits Your Fitness

Physical fitness is much easier to achieve when you add healthy habits and reduce the bad ones. These three reasons may be why your fitness goals aren’t where you want them to be.

Reduce Your Alcohol Consumption

Imagine getting home after a full day of work and coaching your kid’s basketball team. You want to relax and crack open a cold one — which can quickly turn into two or three. Alcohol slows your body down and negatively affects your fitness goals, so reducing your consumption is best. For example, drinking alcohol prevents your body from building muscle after a strength-training workout.

Lay Off the Smokes

Like alcohol, smoking negatively impacts your fitness. Cigarette smoke limits the amount of oxygen flowing through your body, limiting your endurance. Playing outside isn’t as fun when you can’t keep up with your kids. Reducing or eliminating your smoking puts you on a better path to fitness.

Get More Sleep at Night

Sleep is valuable for everybody because it significantly impacts your fitness. At night, your body needs enough time to recover physically and mentally from the day. Set yourself and your kids on a nightly bedtime routine to ensure you get enough sleep every night. Adults need at least seven hours of sleep, so prioritize your shut-eye.

4. Wisely Mitigate Stress

Fitness likely brings to mind images of diet and exercise. However, stress can negatively impact your energy levels and motivation to maintain your fitness. Use three tips to manage stress wisely.

Find Healthy Stress Outlets

Avoiding all stress is hard, so having healthy outlets to address it is essential. Exercise is one way to reduce stress, but you can also turn to activities like journaling, meditation and relaxing in nature.

Create Balanced Schedules

Staying busy is vital for families so you don’t spend too much time on your phones and tablets. However, it can be easy to overwhelm yourself. Create balanced weekly schedules that allow for after-school activities, exercise and downtime.

Seek Support

You don’t have to achieve physical fitness by yourself. Going at it alone can cause stress by putting too much pressure on yourself. Build a support group with your spouse and trustworthy friends who know what you’re going through.

Fitting Physical Fitness Into Your Life

Busy lives can often lead to people neglecting their health. Having kids makes spending an hour daily at the gym more difficult. However, achieving physical fitness as a parent is easier when you take a more holistic approach.

Find small ways to exercise and eat healthier foods. Your tiny changes will compound and positively impact your health in the long run.

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Written by Jack Shaw

Jack Shaw is the senior lifestyle writer at Modded with special interest in navigating the ins and outs of interpersonal relationships and emotional health. You’ll likely find him playing with his dog or exploring nature in his free time.

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