Parenting comes with overwhelming responsibility and few accolades. Every day, a mom makes sure that her children are well-rested and fed and getting the exercise they need. But this care for her children often comes at her own expense. As the emotional anchor of her family, a mom’s lack of self-care compromises her ability to parent with joy and confidence.
Beyond its health benefits, exercise has also been proven to offer a tremendous psychological boost. It really doesn’t matter what exercise routine you choose, but it does matter that you stay with it. So, find your favorite way of working out, whether it’s a brisk walk in the park pushing a stroller or laps around the field while your kids are at soccer practice. The rewards are far-reaching and well worth the time and effort.
Here are 10 benefits of exercise that might make you an even better mom.
Self-love offers a powerful foundation for parenting. While often linked to practicing gratitude and mindfulness, regular exercise can also help you achieve self-love. It’s impossible to parent joyfully if you are down on yourself. Exercise and fitness impede the barrage of messages about beauty and body image that can make moms feel less attractive and even self-hating. You don’t have to get thin or buff to appreciate your body for its power and strength. Every time you work out, you’re writing a love letter to yourself.
Probably the best reason for a mom to exercise is the benefit that it improves her mood. Exercise and fitness also release chemicals that improve mood and reduce anxiety. As we all know, there’s stress, and then there’s “mom stress.” As the saying goes, you’re only as happy as your most unhappy child. Exercise can counteract the unavoidable stress of parenting.
After all the time off from the gym recently, I have found that I am not sleeping through the night as I did before, which really annoys me because a mom needs her sleep! When I’m exercising consistently 4 to 5 times a week, I find that I sleep more deeply and for longer stretches (if the kids don’t wake me up in the middle of the night!). When I have a good night’s sleep, I am a much happier mommy.
It’s one thing to tell your kids to exercise and eat well. It’s even better if you do it yourself. With the childhood obesity epidemic looming large, it’s nice for your kids to see you making exercise a big part of your life. Showing self-care through exercise sends a powerful message that you take your health seriously and that they should, too.
Who would have thought that expending extra energy would bring you more in return? Exercise increases blood flow and releases endorphins which equates to more energy, especially if you make it a regular part of your routine.
Chaos, tough moments, and loss of control are to be expected when raising children. Making time to release energy and shift your focus goes a long way toward helping you calm down and get perspective. You could even invest in a punching bag and gloves – it’s a great workout and super satisfying.
For moms, children are an unreliable source of the sense of accomplishment. Everyone expects you to be a good mom, so the rewards are few and far between. Sticking to an exercise regime, on the other hand, will leave you feeling proud of yourself. Every workout has the potential to reveal improvement. Being a mom who fights for her fitness will make you feel stronger and more accomplished, even when you’ve got spit-up on your shoulder or peanut butter in your hair.
New research links exercise to enhanced memory and the cognitive One study found that regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning. In fact, heart-pumping exercise “stimulates the growth of new blood vessels in the brain and even the abundance and survival of new brain cells.” What better way to fight “mommy’s brain” and keep yourself sharp?
In addition to heart health benefits, exercise also helps your muscles and bones to stay strong. The more muscle you have, the more fat and calories that you burn. Exercise, especially strength training, also increases bone mass and density which helps protect you against osteoporosis (weakening of the bones).
Researchers are finding that physical activity works as well against mild-to-moderate depression as any other treatment. It may be an alternative to current forms of treatment, even in severe cases. Moreover, weight training and resistance exercise have been found to be as effective against depression as aerobic activity. Too many moms face depression due to shifts in identity, sleep deprivation, and the demands of modern life. Exercise can be the very thing to stave off depression and introduce joy.
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