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by Julie Ruggiero

Related: exercise, working out, stress, health, personal trainer, gym, kickboxing, Zumba,

You’re stressed out, sleep deprived, and overscheduled, so finding the time to work out seems like the last thing on your to-do list. Yet studies have shown that exercise not only improves your overall health, but it also reduces stress, increases energy and improves sleep — all great things for moms. 

   “Pregnancy and childbirth place extreme stresses on the body, so exercise will not only help you get your energy back but also get you back to your pre-pregnancy body,” says Sue Fleming, creator of the Buff Fitness® workout regimen.

   So are you up for the challenge? Check out our experts’ list of practical ways to fit in time to get healthy.    

Put Yourself First
   You’re used to putting work, family and other obligations before your own needs, so why not try to put some “me time” back into your schedule? “You want to be here a long time for your children, and if you’re happier, healthier and less stressed, then you’re better able to take care of your family,” says Nikki Glor, personal trainer, instructor and author of Booty Camp Fitness. Glor says that moms have a misconception that by making themselves a priority, they’re being selfish.  
Make an Appointment
   Setting aside time each day to exercise is easier if you schedule your workouts. Whether it’s one hour for a spinning class, a personal training session, a date with a friend or a walk around the neighborhood, sticking to a schedule will help you stick with exercise. Jot down the appointment in your planner or set a reminder on your Blackberry. Also make sure your workout works for you. If the only time you have is in the morning but it’s hard to get motivated when you wake up, Glor suggests going to sleep in your workout clothes, something she often does. “You’re already dressed so you might as well do it,” she says.

Keep It Manageable
   Last fall, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released new guidelines that state that Americans should be exercising at a moderate intensity for at least two and a half hours a week. But if you’re just starting an exercise program, start out slow.

   “Moving every day is important so walking just 20 minutes a day goes a long way,” says Fleming. As you get stronger, you can build up the intensity and frequency of your workouts.

   “You want to feel proud of yourself while doing something that’s not too hard to fit in,” says Glor.  

   “You can stand still and lift weights but the rest of your body is taking a vacation and you’re wasting time,” says Glor, who advises her clients to combine exercises that target several muscle groups at once. As you become more advanced, cardio intervals, which keep your heart rate up and burn more calories, can be added to your program.  Switching your pattern is also important because your body becomes accustomed to the same routine. If you run on the treadmill every time you exercise, take a kickboxing or Zumba class.

   “The more you challenge yourself, the more likely you’ll stick with it,” says Glor.  

For information about Sue Fleming, visit www.buff-fitness.com. For information about Nikki Glor, visit www.nikkifitness.com.

Easy Ways to Fit In a Workout

   Here are simple ways to get started...

• Exercise with a fitness DVD.
• Play the Wii Fit.
• Take a bike ride with your kids. 
• Go for a run with the jog stroller.
• Utilize the babysitting service at the gym.

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