How Exercise Helps me be a Better Mom
Exercise, for moms, can be a trite and impossible activity among hectic days. It also tops the list of what moms need to maintain sanity for the hard job of raising kids. You’ve heard why exercise is good for weight loss, for depression, and for endorphins. Have you heard why exercise can actually help you be a better mom?
As I’ve gained more years (yikes!) I’ve become better acquainted with what my body needs. What once was a reason to not feel “sluggish” in high school is now a spark to help my mom brain stay afloat. It’s much harder to exercise in this life stage, but if there were a time to relax from moving, this is NOT it. Here’s WHY it’s needed and some practical ways you can take care of your sanity.
I realized from a young age that I benefited from exercise; my body needed it. I couldn’t quite verbalize what it did for me but I know my emotions and my brain felt so much better when I had something active to do.
In high school I ran long distance in track. It wasn’t that I enjoyed it (and I wasn’t even good at it). I just knew that I felt better when I was staying active. By the time track started after a long winter, I’d feel sluggish, a little depressed and like my brain was living in a cloud.
Motherhood turned out to bring even tougher winter seasons. I’ve had so many reasons to say no to exercise. I’ve let exercise fall down on the priority list and then felt more stressed and foggy in my mom roll. This made it apparent that fitness may not just be for physical rewards.
Could it be that exercise plays a bigger role than just giving us endorphins and maintaining weight? Turns out its true.
Exercise is one of your Biggest Assets in motherhood
Let me tell you why.
Exercise for Moms Brings Focus
Have you ever noticed that motherhood and hormones can drain your brain? Well exercise can actually help you to regain that focus.
According to Wendy Suzuki on her Ted talk, just moving your body has “immediate, long lasting and protective benefits for your brain.”
This energized woman was so amazed at the affects it had on her own life, she began to study it! She’s discovered many benefits. Exercise, she concludes is the most transformative thing you can do for your brain today because “It has immediate effects on your brain.”
This is where the mood boosting and focused attention comes in. In her studies, better focus was found to last at least two hours! Ever go through your day and feel like your brain is in a fog?
That’s what exercise helps!
You have a to do list but for some reason your brain isn’t working enough to comprehend or strategize tasks.
Movement can be a hero!
Hormones, your cycle, stress, toxins, depression and so many other things can influence your motherhood. It’s pretty amazing that exercise can battle all these enemies. I don’t know about you, but this mom needs some brain pills in her highly stressful job!
Exercise for Moms Helps with Mood
How do you react to stress with your kids?
While I’d like to say I always respond calmly and wisely, that’s just not true. Parenting brings a lot of extra stress into life. Depending on my mood, I do better some days than others.
Exercise can help your mood! Mood is a funny thing. One moment you may feel one way and then a trigger causes a whole other feeling to take over.
Stabilizing this has been so important to me. I notice better mood stability when I’m able to exercise. It’s as though the roller coaster of feelings takes on less dramatics drops.
Team sports are actually the best form of exercise for mood according to this article. Researchers are not sure why. My theory is it’s one of the only forms of play adults take part in.
While we can’t always join a team sport, grabbing a friend to pursue a fitness goal can also help!
How do I start as a busy mom?
Don’t believe the lie that you need to start a vigorous workout regimen in order to receive benefits.
We often hear that to lose weight or fight depression we need to consistently have 30 minutes to an hour of intense workouts.
I’m sharing something way simpler. You can change your mamma brain for the better in just ten minutes! I’m not saying don’t work out longer but don’t stress over it.
You could help your mood while making dinner (squats anyone?) or giving the kids a bath (push ups against the sink time).
Do what you can and your brain will feel it. This study showed that short bouts of exercise helped brain function! Learning and memory get better so have your kids join in too. I think parenting takes just as much learning and memory function as school!
Make it a Lifestyle
- Take out your calendar and write it down. Like my laundry, it won’t get done unless we create a rhythm of it.
- Join some friends or other mamma’s. I used to attend a Mom’s running group and felt totally out of their league fitness wise. It didn’t matter because after the workout we’d talk and eat snacks together. It was the joy I needed in my week.
- Make joy one of the results if possible. I look forward to my current jogs because I know I’ll be able to think with nobody else around. Ending a workout gathering at a coffee shop with friends has also been a fun reward.
Simple ways to start:
- Go for a walk outside. Find a trail or road with hills. There are so many ways this can help mentally, even if you’re not sweating.
- Go for a jog outside. Some people don’t like running which is fine but I’m one of those who’ve grown to enjoy it. While at home with kids I can NEVER think. When I get out on a run I begin to actually dream, pray, contemplate and have complete thoughts. I’m often gone for only 15 minutes, but it’s enough to help reset my brain.
- Turn on some music and have a dance party with the kids. The disco ball is optional. Set the timer or pick a number of songs.
- Do online videos or join an online membership. I recently joined a membership to the Balanced Life Sisterhood with Robin Long. It has helped relax my tense muscles while I gain strength. I’m now teaching my kids that mom has a 10-15 minute Pilates time most mornings. They are welcome to join me but may NOT get on me.
- Play with the kids. Yeah, I know it’s hard but it may actually be what your motherhood needs. Go play tag and laugh a little.
- Call your friends! They need the mental boost too so encourage each other.
I hope this inspires you a little. I honestly do not do all these workouts at the same time. Often I’m not consistent. My goal is that you’re able take better care of yourself so you can care better for your kids. It’s not about creating the perfect workout, but feeling a little more relaxed as you go about your day.
Find some exercise time for mom and you might just find some help for your days.
Please note, I am not a medical professional. Please consult with a Medical Professional before engaging in any new workout. I am not diagnosing any problems or prescribing any cures. This post is only for inspirational purposes. If you are struggling with mental illness please seek professional help.
From the hilltop,
Check out my other posts just for Moms:
Clean the Wet Mess, Ditch the Hot Mess
Designing Our Homeschool for a Sensory Seeking Child
Hobbies in Motherhood: What’s Best in Your Season
The Most Helpful Parenting Tip I Learned Last Year…
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