Finding time to exercise
TV presenter Jake Humphrey got mixed reactions to this tweet a couple of weeks ago. Whilst some of his followers endorsed his message and congratulated him on his dedication, others were quick to offer alternative views. These ranged from ‘who’s looking after your kids?’ to ‘sleep is important to health too you know!’.
As a father of a 2 year old little boy and 7 week old baby girl I can certainly relate to the challenge of fitting exercise in to the hectic schedule of a parent. Even I, as a supposedly dedicated fit pro, haven’t yet got back into training since my youngest was born. There is of course no ‘correct’ view here – whilst exercise is undoubtedly something we should factor into our lifestyles if possible (I don’t need to sell that concept to you), we all have different priorities and circumstances.
Plenty of mothers and fathers are back in the gym just weeks or even days following the arrival of their children. Some are elite athletes and champions in their sports and it’s that dedication that shows why they’ve got to where they’ve got. Jessica Ennis-Hill is a good example; after giving birth to her son in July 2014, she returned to full-time training 2-3 months later and became world heptathlon champion the following August. Impressive stuff.
In my case, I’m still changing nappies 3-4 times between 10pm and 7am and often spending anything from 10 minutes to an hour settling my daughter afterwards. Asking my sleep-deprived body to do a full workout during the day would pile stress on top of stress and would therefore be counter-productive. I won’t be challenging for any world titles any time soon.
Anyhow, in the times I ‘could’ train, 7-8.30am or 6.30-9.30pm for me, currently I’d rather spend time with my children, am supervising bath and bedtime, or catching up with household duties. I am consciously fitting in activity where possible though – I use a standing desk and make a point of walking around whilst on the phone for example - and as my youngest begins to allow me more sleep I’ll be introducing more structured workouts in the evening after the kids are in bed.
Following my more aesthetic-based focus last year - #ProjectPaul – I’m planning to explore and develop my bodyweight training capabilities in terms of strength and balance. Not only will levers, planches and handstands be a new and fresh challenge for me, I can pursue it at home and in the garden meaning less time needed away from the family which is an important factor for me (plus they get to watch me which will hopefully show them exercise – and probably falling over a lot - is a normal part of life).
I’d be interested to know what fellow mums and dads out there think – whether you’re a fitness fanatic or someone who sees exercise as a means to an end, how do you fit in training to your lifestyle? Indeed do you fit it in at all?
Oh, if you didn't see the Tweet that Jake Humphrey posted, here it is:
Written by Paul Swainson