Back to School Fitness for Parents

by William Lewis, Certified Personal Trainer

Did someone say “back to school”? Unfortunately it’s that time of year again, and although it’s great to get the kids out of the house and back into the classroom, it’s also the time for schedule overload and countless afterschool activities. In your preparation of a brand new school year filled with extracurricular activities, make sure that everyone in the family is getting the necessary amount of exercise. It is recommended by the American Heart Association that kids get a minimum of 60 minutes of physical activity each day while adults get at least 30 minutes. This may sound overwhelming at first when you have to factor in a workout to an already hectic schedule, but with some planning and a positive mindset you will be well on your way to a happy, healthy and less stressful school year!

Preparation and planning can be the difference between organization and chaos. When it comes to exercising, that strategy shouldn’t be any different. Making a weekly or monthly calendar of your work schedule, school functions, appointments and other responsibilities is a tangible source of planning that the whole family can see. By doing this, you can see when is the best time each day to fit in exercise. Even if you only have three 10-minute breaks throughout the day to squeeze in a workout, it’s better than doing nothing or making up an excuse. After all, making excuses burns zero calories per hour! Plus, if you add up those short workout periods then you will find yourself getting in 30 minutes of exercise that day – it all adds up.

Exercise doesn’t have to be done just at the gym or club. Sometimes it’s most convenient to get your heart rate up in the simplest of ways, such as by doing a set of sit ups when you first get out of bed in the morning, dancing during television commercials, or by taking quick, brisk walking breaks throughout your day. Kids’ playtime and afterschool practices are a great way to get in some cardio. For example, instead of sitting in the car or bleachers while your child is at football practice, try jogging around the field during practice. You can still pay attention, but you are also burning calories.

Another great way to stick to your workouts during the back-to-school craze is to get your workout clothing and shoes laid out and ready to go the night before. This saves you time and is an awesome reminder before you leave the house to make sure you work out. You can also have a gym bag in the front seat of your vehicle as a constant reminder.

Lastly, it’s important to make exercise your “me time.” Sometimes parents have their children in so many activities that they rarely take time out for themselves. This is why exercising is the perfect opportunity to focus on “you,” because it sends endorphins throughout the body while relieving stress. After all, you wouldn’t skip out on a massage, would you? So why not give exercise that same priority? Your body will thank you for it.

If you still have problems getting in a workout most days of the week, then consider hiring a personal trainer. Personal trainers motivate their clients and teach them the proper mechanics of exercises to ensure safety. Having a personal trainer holds you accountable because you know that you've scheduled a set time and day every week. Because working out with a personal trainer can get expensive, see if you can find someone who has a similar schedule as you and then the two of you can do small group training – which is less expensive and more fun!

The dog days of summer are slowly coming to an end and the backpacks and school supplies are right around the corner. By planning, organizing and even mixing in a quick workout here and there, you can be well on your way to a new way of life. Let this school year be the year that your entire family makes a change to be more active and make exercising a priority.