Thursday, February 6, 2014

Exercise Tips for Busy Dads

As all busy parents know, making time for yourself isn’t always easy. With Father’s Day coming up on June 17th, it’s a great time to acknowledge that being a healthy parent is important not only for your family but also for yourself!
Many studies have found that physical activity is very likely to decrease with age.1
One particular study from the Journal of Physical Activity & Health followed participants over an average of 38 years and found that 70.4% of adolescents exercised at least five hours or more weekly.2 The study also noted that by middle age, the number of participants exercising that much dropped to 17%.
Work and parenthood responsibilities are the top reasons why adults tend to fall off the regular exercise bandwagon. However, with a little planning, getting back into a physical activity routine is possible.
Challenge #1: A grueling work schedule
More men are giving up the traditional breadwinning role and becoming stay-at-home dads, but women still outnumber men as the primary stay-at-home family caregivers, according to an ABC News article.3
However, logging long hours at the office doesn’t have to mean less physical activity.
Making little changes like parking farther away from the building entrance, taking the stairs, and skipping the free bagel and donut buffet can make a difference to your waistline and overall cardiovascular health.
Another must-do: Make exercise your first priority in the morning before work. An early workout can help you avoid the excuse of being too tired after work and can ensure that other engagements that pop up later on in the day won’t infringe on your activity time.  Not an early bird? Try to fit in a workout during lunch.
Challenge #2: Demands of parenthood
New parents often barely have time to sleep, let alone find the time or energy to exercise. Talk to your partner and try to set a rotating schedule where you take turns babysitting. Some gyms even offer free daycare, which helps if you both want to work up a sweat together.
Challenge #3: Lack of motivation
Hectic agendas and daily stressors often make settling down on the couch after a long day much more enticing than going for a run. Further, hitting the gym (especially if you’ve been away a while) can be downright intimidating.
Putting the fun back into exercise is often a great motivator. Exercise can also be a great bonding activity, whether it’s with your friends, spouse or children. Look for local recreational groups for team sports like kickball or soccer, or take your family out for a walk after dinner. Once you start to feel more energy, zip up your pants with ease, and revel in the camaraderie after a victory game, exercise will begin to feel less like a chore.
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  1. Sallis JF, “Age-Related Decline in Physical Activity: a Synthesis of Human and Animal Studies,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.
  2. Larouche R. et al, “Life Transitions in the Waning of Physical Activity From Childhood to Adult Life in the Trois-Rivières Study,” Journal of Physical Activity & Health.
  3. Alice Gomstyn, “More Women Become Breadwinners as Male Unemployment Jumps,” ABC News.