Moms are notorious for having epic to-do lists, especially ones that don’t include themselves. Work, errands, car pool, appointments—who has time to take care of herself? Even if you know the multitude of benefits that running can offer, it’s so easy to put it off in favor of taking care of something—or someone—else. But to be the very best mother-runner you can be, sometimes you have to put yourself first and make time for those miles. So add a 5K to that to-do list and reap these five benefits:
If you have little kids, you probably can’t remember the last time you went to the bathroom alone, let alone had an entire hour to yourself. But try to make the effort to coordinate with your partner to take over kid-duty for a bit, or get a babysitter, or even swap childcare with a fellow mother-runner; exercising on your own a few times a week allows you to truly focus on your workout and can be transformative, both for your fitness level and your sanity.
There is nothing more annoying to mothers of little kids than to hear well-meaning passerby tell you, “Sleep when the baby sleeps!” Since that’s easier said than done, the next best thing you can do for your sleep is to work out. Regular exercise has been shown to improve how well you sleep, so the more miles you squeeze in, the fewer sheep you’ll have to count at night. You may not be able to increase your quantity of sleep, but the quality will be much better.
Post-partum depression affects many new moms, from the occasional dark day to severe despair. While you should never hesitate to reach out to your doctor for help, running can help improve a gloomy mood by releasing those “feel-good” chemicals that are behind the infamous runner’s high. Even a quick jog can give you enough of a boost to power through the roughest, most sleepless day. Bonus points if you get outside for some mood-enhancing sunshine.
Little kids—it’s incredible how so much terror can be packed into such a tiny package. Actually, kids of all ages can stress you out in their own unique way. You can’t change that, but you can change how you deal with it. Running is an excellent way to release physical tension and emotional anxiety that can come from caring for kiddos. You may not be able to get the Sesame Street song out of your head, but at least you’ll get the stress out of your body.
Kids bring a lot to your life—joy, pride, fun. In return, they take your energy. All your energy. Sure—a cup (or ten) of coffee helps, but for long-lasting energy, nothing beats the endorphins from a long run. Even a quick couple miles will give you a significant boost and energize you through bedtime. If you think you’re too tired to run, just lace up your sneakers and jog around the block; you’ll likely feel invigorated after a few minutes and want to keep going.