For countless Americans, becoming a parent is a major life milestone. There are approximately 83.09 million families living in the United States, which means that bringing home a new bundle of joy is a dream realized by many. And while the average family unit has evolved over the years, the majority of children grow up in traditional households. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 69% of the nation’s 73.7 million children ages 18 and younger live with two parents.
Of course, that doesn’t always mean that parenthood is always smooth sailing. When you have an infant to care for, your own needs often fall by the wayside. For example, nearly half of all parents with children aged six months and younger receive only one to three hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Attempts to embrace a nutritious diet or to spend quality time together may fall flat when you can barely keep your eyes open. What’s more, people in all stages of parenthood feel an obligation to put themselves last. Approximately 77% of adults say women face significant pressure to be seen as involved parents, compared to the 56% of adults who agree men face those same pressures.
With all that in mind, it’s no wonder that so many new parents struggle to prioritize their physical fitness. Sedentary lifestyles are fairly common throughout the nation, as roughly 27.6% of Americans ages six and older can be considered physically inactive. But among new parents, the likelihood of adopting an inactive lifestyle is even higher. A two-year University of Pittsburgh study involving 800 young adults confirmed that new parents are more sedentary than singles or married couples without any children.
It may help to understand that working in physical fitness doesn’t have to represent an unrealistic commitment. Here are just three simple ways new parents can make room for exercise -- even with everything else going on in their lives.
Get a Jogging Stroller For Park Visits
If you’re heading to the local park with your kiddo in tow, you’ll want to invest in a jogging stroller, which will allow you to get your workout on while your baby naps. That way, you’ll have an excuse to get outside and work up a bit of a sweat without having to hire a babysitter. Since these strollers have larger wheels, they’re easier to push. You can even schedule regular outings with other mom friends to prioritize your fitness as a group.
Combine Date Night With Gym Time
Who says date night has to consist of dinner and a movie? Schedule regular fitness dates with your spouse and make an event of them. You could drop the baby off with your in-laws, hit the gym together, and go out afterwards for a quick bite. You could also play a game of tennis, take a dip in a community pool, or sign up for dance lessons. Even if you have a home gym, you might consider hiring a sitter or having a relative watch your baby for an hour so that you can have some time alone together to release some stress and make some progress towards your fitness goals. Even if it’s only a once-a-week commitment, you should be proud that you’re both highlighting your health.
Fit in 15 Minutes Where You Can
If you don’t have the time or the energy for an hour-long workout, don’t beat yourself up. Becoming a new parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world -- so cut yourself some slack. That said, you don’t have to commit to a lengthy exercise routine to reap the physical and emotional benefits. If you can fit in just 10 or 15 minutes of free weights, crunches, or stretches before the baby wakes up, consider that a major win. The concept of “baby steps” can apply to the entire family during this challenging period.
With these helpful tips in mind, new parents may feel a bit more invigorated to embrace a more physically active lifestyle on their own terms. While your workouts may not be the same as they were when you could spend an hour or more per day using your fitness equipment, every little bit will help to release endorphins, increase strength, lose weight, and take better care of both yourself and your growing family.