I have yet to meet a mom who doesn’t dream of getting a better night’s sleep. After all, there are countless reasons a parent’s peaceful night’s rest could be interrupted: soggy diapers, hungry babies, colicky kids, up-chuck, nightmares, thunderstorms, nose bleeds, nagging coughs, wet beds, sleep walking, night terrors… the list goes on. Which makes it even more important for deep, restful sleep to occur during the nights or precious moments that are miraculously interruption-free.
Without a good night’s rest, I turn into a foggy-headed grizzly bear whose cubs don’t exactly enjoy being around. That’s one of the reasons I began running as a mom. I’d heard exercise improves sleep, and sleep combats Grizzly Bear Syndrome. So I gave it a try. And the results were…well compelling enough to keep me running!
Turns out there are lots of other great health reasons for moms to adopt a regular exercise program. And there’s wonderful research to support why applying our last bits of time and energy to exercising isn’t as ridiculous as it sounds.
Healthy Reasons to Exercise
Here are some health benefits I’ve found being a runner mom and cool research to back up my observations:
1. Running helps me sleep more soundly at night. Which helps me be far more alert, productive, and cheerful the next day.
It appears I’m not alone. This article, National Sleep Foundation Poll Finds Exercise Key to Good Sleep, shows the effects different forms of exercise have on sleep, as well as healthy sleep advice.
2. When I’m consistently running or exercising, my body feels stronger and better able to defend against the lovely germs my kids bring home from their daily encounters with other germ factories.
The Harvard Medical School suggests that routine exercise, can in fact, help boost the immune system. This Harvard Health publication points out other great ways to build your defenses, too.
3. When I run or speed walk, (especially when I don’t overdo it), I seem to have more energy to keep up with my kids and their crazy daily schedules.
In Exercise for Energy: Workouts that Work, Web MD has a fascinating article about how low to moderate exercise actually creates energy in our bodies. What a great reason to get up and get moving!
4. Running helps me burn some of the calories I literally pick up during the day. Whether I’m stealing a french fry off my son’s plate or I’m celebrating a special occasion with a slice of cake, calories add up quickly. While running does not give me license to eat all I want when I want, it does help offset some of the damage.
Runner’s World has a free calculator to determine how many calories are burned during a given run, using time and distance ran, and a person’s weight.
5. And finally, I love the mental boost I get from running. At the end of those days when my To Do list is only half done and nothing seems to have gone as I’d hoped, futility and disappointment can weigh me down. But if I’m able to squeeze in a run, my sense of accomplishment is restored, and I can look to tomorrow with a brighter perspective.
Plus, running is a great stress reliever and endorphin producer. The Mayo Clinic’s Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress confirms this, and it references a number of studies that support the claims.
Not a Runner?
To be fair, running is certainly not the only exercise that has great health benefits. I’ve found similar results in swimming, biking and aerobics, too. And weight training and yoga have even more benefits.
So if running’s not your cup of tea, no worries!
Find an exercise you know you can stick with.
Enlist a few accountability buddies to do it with you.
And check with your doctor to get the “all clear” before you jump in feet first.
Better sleep, lower stress, more energy, a nice calorie burn, and a happier outlook are just a few steps away!