When does exercise matter for the busy Mom?
Is it worth your time or just another thing you are doing because you think you should?
When abs are “made in the kitchen” and your abs have been “made by baby stretch” what is a Mom to do?
When Does Exercise Matter?
As a Family Doctor and Mom, I would never tell you not to exercise. It is good for heart health – at least 30 minutes 5 times a week is the medical recommendation for your exercise regime. It makes your heart stronger, can decrease blood sugars, and helps with bone strength as well. All wins!
But, in terms of weight loss, I also know that I can easily eat my calories burned with a couple chocolate chip cookies. And, when my Mom schedule gets especially hectic, is it worth it for weight loss?
At both Mayo Clinic and The Obesity Society conferences this past fall, the point on exercise was the same: exercise matters A LOT for weight loss maintenance. NOT so much for the weight loss itself.
In fact, multiple studies have shown that exercising 3 – 4 1/2 hours per week resulted in less than 5 pounds of weight loss over 6 months. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2003/) and (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10593526)
Exercising less than 3 hours a week showed weight loss effect at all.
Studies have shown that maintaining high levels of physical activity may be necessary to reduce weight gain, though. That is extremely important to prevent the “yo-yo” phenomenon.
And the loss of fat from the belly or visceral fat is increased with exercise as well with or without weight loss. Good for your Mom belly and for your health.
Does the Form of Exercise Matter?
We have all seen those Mom’s “phoning it in” at the gym – on the treadmill and a cell phone for what seems like hours and barely breaking a sweat. What busy Mom has time for that?
But, you might be thinking, we all want to do cardio for weight loss, right? Studies have shown that you burn more calories doing cardio than weight lifting alone. That is true. BUT, the increased calories burned came as the result of increased “down time” in weight lifting exercises not the exercise itself.
And calories expended are the most important determinant, not the time spent doing it.(https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/41438)
The good news for the busy Mom’s out there is that high intensity interval training (HIIT for short) will get you all of that – in about 1/3 of the time.
What is HIIT Exercise?
HIIT, or high intensity interval training, involves short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by low intensity or recovery intervals.
Studies have shown the best results if your choose intervals of 2-4 minutes of hard-easy exercise for 4-10 repetitions. You should push to breathlessness during the high intensity intervals. And don’t forget to stay moving during easy or recovery periods. You should be able to have a conversation during recovery periods, though.
HIIT is ideal for busy Mom’s in that you get the same, if not higher, calories burned in much less time. It’s not just for men.
Tips for Making Exercise Matter for Busy Mom’s
Choose Your Priorities Wisely
If you are just starting (or restarting for the 100th time!) your weight loss journey, diet matters most. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many changes at once. Start with dietary changes. Then add exercise once you have adjusted to up your weight loss game.
You can check out my posts on intermittent fasting (https://doctormome.com/post/intermittent-fasting-for-busy-moms/) and low carb diets for busy mom’s (https://doctormome.com/post/low-carb-diet-for-busy-moms/) for great information on diets that work and are medically sound.
Add Exercise Before You Reach Your Goal Weight
Exercise is VERY important to maintain weight loss. So, if you are approaching your goal weight and haven’t added it in, now is the time. Don’t wait until you start regaining.
Get Exercise on Your Busy Mom Schedule
Many busy Mom’s are most successful with exercise when they add it first thing in the morning. No children on your lab, no distractions, no emergencies. Personally, it makes me hungry all day if I exercise in the morning. Just something to consider. Of course, a lot of things make me hungry…
You will need to get it on your schedule, though. It isn’t just going to happen that you find yourself in leggings and tennis shoes (well, that might actually happen) but not with a weight in your hand. Other good times to exercise might include nap time or after the kids go to bed.
Some people like to exercise at lunch but I hate going back to the office sweaty. And, remember, calories burned is the most important part of your exercise regimen. If you are simultaneously trying not to sweat and trying to burn calories that kind of defeats the purpose. My husband is the king of that.
Consider Exercising at Home
Exercising at home has always been key for me. And there are TONS of good HIIT programs and apps specifically designed for women these days. It cuts the driving, check-in, and total time needed for exercise drastically. And less time means I am more likely to get it on my schedule.
Make Exercise Interactive with Your Kids
If you are like me and don’t like the early morning exercise schedule, you will want to find a way to work around your little ones. Setting the example of physical fitness for your kids is not a bad thing anyway.
Im fact, as I completed my favorite Bikini Body Mommy (http://bikinibodymommy.com/) workout today, I did frog sit ups with Elmo on my belly, Daniel Tiger between my legs, and a toddler pushing down on my bladder. It is what it is folks – we just get it done.
Simple Solution: Start with the dietary changes and then add the exercise for weight maintenance and heart health. Consider HIIT for less time on the busy Mom schedule. And, if all else fails, grab on Elmo doll for toddler distraction.