Wait, Being a Mom Isn't Exercise Enough?

Wait, Being a Mom Isn't Exercise Enough?

Why you should care

Because “squeezing in a workout” shouldn’t be so damn difficult.

A new study about moms and exercise makes me want to cry into my daughter’s mac ‘n cheese.

Researchers in the U.K. tracked more than 500 moms with preschool-aged kids and found that only 53 percent of mothers engaged in a 30-minute workout once a week.

One half-hour, out of 168 hours in a week, is hardly Gwyneth Paltrow proportions. It’s even paltry compared to the physician-approved weekly goal for optimal health, which is two-and-a-half hours, or 150 minutes.

Moms, get your Zumba on! And we want to. We really want to.

The study was also quick to point out that the more the moms worked out, the more the kids exercised. And the healthier the mom, the less risk of obesity for the kid.

It’s a lovely picture. Moms, get your Zumba on! And we want to. We really want to.

Except here’s the thing: Unless we want to spend $20 (or more) for a babysitter to watch the kids for an hour while we go out for a run, we just don’t have the time.

I’d love nothing more than to have 30 whole minutes a day to work out. But there are obstacles: My childcare isn’t subsidized. My husband and I both work full time. My kid sometimes wakes up three times a night. Who wants to set their alarm for 5 a.m. after six hours of sleep to go for a three-mile run?

How about a bit later, after caffeinating? Sure, except for the time-suck of getting my daughter ready in the morning, feeding her, cleaning up the cereal she gleefully dumped on the floor, finding just the right jacket (because yesterday’s favorite is no longer acceptable), and then dropping her off at childcare. Reverse this daily routine at night and what’s left? Goldfish crackers and a conversation about, say, the broken dishwasher with my spouse before bed.

Oh, but a Pilates class sounds so much better!

I’ve got just one kid, a supportive partner, a work-from-home job and, still, finding time to exercise is a constant struggle. If I’m finding it hard to stay fit, can we really expect full-time working parents to carve out time to discover their inner Jillian Michaels?

There are solutions: Local YMCAs often provide childcare (but it fills up fast). Partners, or fellow parent-friends, can tag-team workouts on the weekends. Jogger strollers are handy — as long as you can afford the pricey pram and a kid who will tolerate it.

Still, 150 minutes a week, every week? Not without having my mother move in.

I say it’s time to broaden the conversation. Let’s launch more community programs that support parents with young children. Let’s subsidize childcare so more parents can actually afford time to work out. Longer paid maternity leaves would help, too, so women can establish healthy habits from the get-go post childbirth instead of racing back to work before they’ve recovered from extreme sleep deprivation enough to figure out an exercise regimen.

Because chasing after your kids, as much as you love them, just doesn’t count.

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