Physical Activity

family biking

This self-care tip has nothing to do with your weight, body type, or fitting into pants that are two sizes too small! This is about self-care for your mental health using physical activity for stress reduction.

Why exercise?
Exercise can increase your endorphin level. Endorphins are “feel good” hormones. Exercise can create feelings of:

  • Relaxation
  • Focus
  • Energy
  • Well being

Excuses for not exercising:

  • I don’t have time to go to the gym 4 times a week! Don’t all the experts say I’ve got to work out at least 60 minutes a day? Come on, I work full-time and have kids! Who’s got time for that?!
  • I can’t afford a gym membership.
  • I’m too klutzy. I can’t do all those fancy aerobics class moves.
  • I hate jogging/weight lifting/biking/etc.
  • Etc.
  • Etc.!

But wait! Don’t close the page!

Remember, this isn’t about losing weight, or getting physically fit. We are focusing on stress reduction techniques. Simple exercises you can fit into your day.

What kinds of exercise?

Think in terms of categories of exercise. When you get bored with one, try another. These are all part of your parenting tool kit. Feel free to experiment.

  • Stretch
  • Cardiovascular/aerobic
  • Lift weights
  • Breathe

There are lots of variations within each category. The trick is to find what works best for you for stress reduction. For some people, pumping iron for thirty minutes can empty their minds of all cares. For others, a fast-paced run around the neighborhood. Or maybe some yoga or tai chi. Or vigorous gardening.

How long?

For most people, it takes about 30 sustained minutes to get to that happy, no-more-stress feeling.

  • Close the right nostril with your right thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Do this to the count of four seconds.
  • Immediately close the left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger, and at the same time remove your thumb from the right nostril, and exhale through this nostril. Do this to the count of eight seconds. This completes a half round.
  • Inhale through the right nostril to the count of four seconds. Close the right nostril with your right thumb and exhale through the left nostril to the count of eight seconds. This completes one full round.

Get real. 30 minutes? In a row? Did you forget that I’m a parent who also works full time?

Okay, yes-30 minutes. BUT–if you don’t have that much time, you may want to try some breathing exercises. You won’t lose weight, but you can create a feeling of relaxation and focus pretty quickly.

Breathing technique example: alternate nostril breathing

Be gentle with your breath-don’t force it, just let it happen. Feel the breath in your chest, in your diaphragm, in your back. Don’t do this if you have a cold or blocked nasal passages. You want the breath to go through your nasal passages.

Daily Reminder
Treat yourself right–physical activity is good for your heart and mind, not just your body!

© Parent Trust for Washington Children