Exercise for Busy Moms

By: Rick Hanson, Ph.D. and Jan Hanson, L.Ac.

Everybody tells you to exercise these days, but who's got the time for it?!

There's a saying about exercise: Oh, I do get the urge sometimes. But I just lie down until it passes!

Kidding aside, exercise certainly will improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your immune system, and help prevent obesity and adult-onset diabetes. It brings vitality, energy, and relaxation, lifts depressive feelings, and keeps you trim. None of us really "finds" time for self-care and exercise. We have to MAKE time for them since they're essential to our well-being and health.

You probably already have an idea of what kind of exercise you'd do if you only had the time. And if not, you can get loads of information about exercise in the books or videos in the box, or from personal trainers in your gym or health club. If you've recently had a baby, your OB/GYN can make recommendations about safe and gentle exercises to strengthen stretched-out abdominal muscles or tighten up the pelvic floor; of course, if you have any orthopedic or anatomic problems that interfere with exercise, please consult your doctor or physical therapist for specific suggestions.

Before you dive into a major program, we suggest you take a few days first to do ten to twenty minutes a day of gentle yoga or stretching. And try to do some stretches at the start of any workout; stiff muscles are like sleeping children: they need encouragement and a little time to wake up!

But the real issue is usually how to shoehorn exercise into a day that's already crowded with work and family. Here are some ideas (with a focus on aerobics, not strength training):

Resources for Exercise
Strollercize: The Workout for New Mothers by Elizabeth Trindade and Victoria Shaw
Kinergetics: Dancing with Your Baby for Bonding and Better Health for Both of You by Sue Doherty
Strong Women Stay Young by Miriam Nelson (www.strongwomen.com)
Real Fitness for Real Women: A Unique Work-Out Program for the Plus-size Woman by Rochelle Rice

Rick Hanson is a clinical psychologist, Jan Hanson is an acupuncturist/nutritionist, and they are raising a daughter and son, ages 12 and 15. With Ricki Pollycove, M.D., they are the first and second authors of Mother Nurture: A Mother's Guide to Health in Body, Mind, and Intimate Relationships, published by Penguin. You can see their website at www.nurturemom.com or email them with questions or comments at info@nurturemom.com.

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