Exercise a Great Family Connector, Stress Fighter
This article appeared in the April 29, 2019 edition of the Register-Guard.
Let’s be honest.
Pregnancy is hard on the body and postpartum hormones are hard on the mind. As we try to navigate these changes, we are also charged with caring for a newborn baby, sleep deprivation, and all the other demands of being a parent. How can we continue to be our best selves when we are pulled in so many directions?
What is self-care?
During this season of life, we hear people say “don’t forget about self-care,” but what does that mean?
For many of us, self-care means getting out of the house (with or without a shower), getting our heart rate up through exercise and reconnecting with our body through movement.
This is especially true for single parents or if you do not have supportive family nearby. Exercise is a great way to be around other adults, kids and families. Taking a brisk walk with friends or your spouse — with baby and toddlers in tow — gets our blood flowing, gets us outside, and gives us quality time with other adults. Many fitness centers offer child care so you can have 60 minutes of uninterrupted time to yourself (this time has become like gold to me).
Exercise doesn’t have to wait until we are panicking over our postpartum bodies. It can begin with pregnancy, but be sure to consult your doctor first. As a Jazzercise instructor, I was fortunate to be able to work out through both of my pregnancies. Physical fitness, in moderation, during pregnancy kept my body strong and my endorphins high. This helped me carry my growing babies well, gave me endurance during labor and helped me recover from delivery.
Consider different ways to keep your body happy and healthy during pregnancy. Does dancing bring you joy? Do you love to get out in nature? Is walking around your neighborhood the easiest way to get out? Does swimming feel good on your joints?
What habits do we want to model for our children?
My children have grown up knowing fitness is a part of our lives. Wellness isn’t an isolated activity, it is embedded into our daily living. As parents, we often feel guilty about making time for ourselves. The reality is, we are modeling healthy living and self-care — not to mention the physical and mental benefits we get from working out. Physical fitness gives us the energy we need to keep up with our kids and to play with them. Eugene Recreation and Willamalane offer classes for kids, adults and families to inspire movement.
What are some ways to use exercise to connect with your family?
In addition to personal wellness, movement as a family is a great way to connect. Have you tried the climbing gyms or trampoline parks? Do you like to play tag at the park? Go on bike rides? Hike up Spencer’s Butte? Run on the dunes at the coast? We are so lucky to be in Lane County where there are many (free) opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature. Just remember your rain gear!
Many moms look forward to breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day. Our family is most excited to get out to Alton Baker Park for the Parenting Now!’s Mother’s Day 5K. This is a great opportunity to support an organization that continues to positively impact our community. We also get to exercise as a family, get outside and be with friends. We hope to see you at the starting line!
To learn more and register for Parenting Now!’s Mother’s Day 5K, visit: parentingnow.org/mothers-day-5k.