Why You Should Ditch Parental Exercise Guilt for Good

Mental Health

Why You Should Ditch Parental Exercise Guilt for Good

It's better for the whole family in the long run.

By Alyssa Sybertz

April 29, 2020

Let’s just tell it like it is: Parents are superheroes. Raising another human being is an incredible feat and doing so while juggling other responsibilities is even more impressive. Even so, it’s not uncommon for parents—especially mothers—to feel guilty setting aside time to do something for themselves, like exercise. “There are a lot of messages out there about sacrificing and putting children and family first. That’s not new,” says kinesiologist Emily Mailey, Ph.D., Director of the Physical Activity Intervention Research Lab at Kansas State University. “There are also legitimate time barriers, only so many hours in the day. So you have to make decisions around what to prioritize. And for a lot of people, exercise isn’t high enough on that list to make the cut.”

The reason, says Mailey, lies in how people perceive the benefits of exercise. “A lot times if you ask someone why exercise is important, they talk about health or appearance or weight,” she explains. “But these thoughts feel pretty far off and abstract, so they don’t translate very well to prioritizing as a parent.” Indeed, if a mom has twenty free minutes, she is much more likely to use that time for something she feels will produce an immediate benefit, like doing a load of laundry or taking a power nap, than something that she knows is smart and healthy but doesn’t think will produce instantaneous change.

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But here’s the rub: “In reality, exercise has a lot of benefits that can have an immediate impact on you, your kids, and your family,” says Mailey. “A lot of the research I’ve done is on changing the messages and the way physical activity is promoted to highlight the benefits that can contribute positively to being a good parent.” And there are many. Being able to manage stress more effectively, feeling less fatigued and more energetic, and being happier and more confident are just a few of the study-proven benefits of exercise that will have an instant impact on your ability to parent happily and effectively. Thinking about your workout in the context of these perks, Mailey says, as opposed to some of the more long-term benefits, will go far towards banishing guilt about taking the time to sweat.

The final key: “You’re more likely to prioritize your workout and get the feel-good effects if you find an activity that you enjoy,” promises Mailey. That’s where Peloton comes in. With so many classes in different disciplines, from cycling and running to yoga and strength training, you can choose the workout that makes you feel like the superhero you are. Workouts also come in varied lengths, from 5 minutes all the way up to 90 minutes, so you’re certain to find the length that will fit into your busy day, every day.

Ready to get started? If you have a Bike, try one of the instructors’ favorite classes of 2019, or one of the rides Members say offers an instant mood boost. Or if you’re working out with the app, try one of the top 20-minute workouts in every format.