We all have days when we lack energy and we would rather wrap ourselves in a soft blanket than put on our trainers. Getting going is often the hardest part of fitting exercise into the daily routine. However, you rarely regret leaving the couch. It is important to identify the factors that promote good exercise habits and give us strength at times of weakness. Once the factors affecting exercise habits are identified, it will be easier to strengthen the healthy habits and lower the perceived obstacles to exercise. The following list will help you identify the factors affecting your exercise habits. Try to strengthen the healthy habits and identify the obstacles.
Our family is so busy that I don’t have time to exercise enough.
Dad: “The way we use our time makes exercising awkward. We’re poor at organizing things and marking them on the calendar. I can’t plan anything really.” Mum: “That’s right, and although I’d like to plan everything, sometimes it’s just impossible.” – Mum, Dad and two young children
Mum: “You went jogging yesterday, and I took the dogs for a walk today. The day’s started really well, and it feels good. I do know that exercise makes you feel great, and before I got pregnant everything went really well. Now I get up early to have enough time for a shower and other things before going to work. It’s all about scheduling.” – Mother of two children
- On a busy day you can go for a short walk. The most important thing is to get on the move, even if it’s just for a short while. A bit of fresh air is good for you.
- Plan your exercise in advance. Mark an appropriate exercise time on your calendar and stick to it.
- Consider exercise as a natural part of the day. It doesn’t have to be a separate part of life, just a normal routine.
I’m tired and want to stay on the couch.
“Tiredness definitely plays a role. If my oldest daughter is tired, there’s no sense in taking her to gymnastics. The same thing for me: If I’m tired, I don’t feel like exercising. I’d rather take a nap and exercise later…” – Mother of two daughters under school age
- Make sure you get enough sleep. Sleep is as important for your health as a varied diet and regular exercise.
- When you are tired, recall how good it felt after your previous exercise session. Enjoy the good feeling you get from exercise. “Yes, I did it!”
- If you can, exercise before going to work or right after work. Walking or cycling to or from work can also be great exercise.
- Get yourself a training mate. Decide on a fixed day to go jogging and stick to it. A training mate will get you moving even when you don’t feel like it.
- Take your exercise more gently when you’re not feeling energetic. Go for a gentle walk instead of a tough fitness class or run, or try stretching exercises at home listening to relaxing music.
I can’t leave the children alone.
“I don’t know when during the day I could exercise or go playing something. Probably in the evening, but then again, it’s the time when I can be with the kids.” – Father of two children
“The main reason is our young daughter. Before her, we used to be more active: we went to the gym together and went playing something, for instance… But now our daughter is the first priority.” – Father of four children
- Exercise together with the children!
- It can be a great opportunity and provides quality time together.
- Exercise will become a fixed part of life if it’s connected to other important things such as family time.
- There is time at weekends for family exercise. Walks in the forest, checking out sledging slopes and summer days playing on the beach offer children a chance to be together with the family.
- Arrange exercise sessions with someone! Go for a pram walk or cycling together with your friends and their children.
- Muscular exercise can be done at home between other routines. If time is short, another good option is to split the exercise sessions.
- Can you get someone to look after your children while you’re exercising?
The weather has been so bad that I don’t feel like going out.
“The weather definitely plays a role. It’s annoying to wear five layers of clothes. In the summer, it’s much easier to go outside, when you don’t have to wear that much.” – Mother of one child
Dad: “We are quite happy-go-lucky. Sometimes we go for a walk in the forest. We do it when we feel like it.” Mum: “It’s not anything fixed, it just depends on how we’re feeling… The weather must be good and the stars aligned properly.” – Patchwork family where the father has four children and the mother has one child
- See the different seasons as an opportunity. Enjoy the four different seasons.
- Dress according to the weather.
- Be patient when dressing children. Children usually like the rainy weather and playing in water, so let them enjoy it and express themselves by playing in the mud.
- Rainy weather can be seen as a pleasure, as the air is oxygen-rich and fresh. When the weather is bad, you can also exercise indoors. Several simple fitness sessions can be found online. With children you can play indoor games or set up a circus, for instance. There are no limits to people’s imagination! Here are some tips for the family circus.
The parents’ and their children’s friends live far away.
“It’s difficult when everywhere’s so far away. It’s 15 kilometres to the nearest city centre. You always need a car. I haven’t walked anywhere for three years because of the distances. Well, sometimes I go for a walk…” – Mother of one child
Dad: “Being at the computer is one way to hang out with friends. The distances are so long that my closest friend lives 30 kilometres from here.”
Mum: “Children are not just playing at the computer but keeping in contact. It’s the same thing for me. I use Facebook a lot to keep in contact with my friends, because they all live far away.” – Patchwork family where the father has four children and the mother has one child
- Can children exercise during the nursery day or school day? Could exercise be a part of children’s afternoon activities?
- Invite children’s friends over at weekends to play.
- Does your workplace offer exercise sessions? If so, get involved either before or after work.
- Exercise together as a family.
- Exercise can also provide time for yourself – enjoy it. You can concentrate on your own thoughts and just yourself.
Our family has other interests than exercise.
“I’ve never really seen any point in exercise. I just haven’t figured out why I should work out. And I don’t want to force myself. It just doesn’t work.” – Father of four children
“I’m interested in other things than exercise. And even if I don’t exercise but eat normally, I don’t gain weight. That’s why I don’t feel the need to exercise. I’ve always thought that exercising is boring. Dancing is the only activity that I enjoy. When I dance, I kind of exercise without noticing it. I don’t want to exercise just for the sake of exercise.” – Mother of one child
- Consider exercise broadly and open-mindedly as part of daily life. It does not have to be a pre-planned activity.
- Try to find the joy of exercise by exercising the way you like.
- Remember you can exercise during everyday activities, such as going to the supermarket, walking or cycling to work and doing house-work.
- Download an audio book or your favourite music onto your player to listen to while going for a walk.
Children like to exercise, which also motivates parents.
“The children boost our family’s exercise activities. Without them we wouldn’t be this active. Setting a good example for children also motivates us.” – Mother of two children under school age
Dad: “Our youngest daughter needs to be pushed on a swing.”
Mum: “And didn’t we just play tag? Sometimes we all play together and make sandpies, for example, but other times I just sit in the swing…” – Mother and father of two children under school age
- Children usually like to exercise. They might like it even more if the whole family takes part in it.
- Exercising and spending time outdoors are great ways to spend family time.
- Exercising together with the family offers children a great chance to test new forms of exercise. In familiar company it feels safe to both succeed and fail.