10 Reasons Running Is Good for Parents

Mom Dad and Baby Sunrise Running
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Parents have a tough time finding time for themselves, and running or other forms of exercise often fall to the bottom of their to-do lists. But what moms and dads may not realize is that running can not only improve their overall health and fitness, but it can also help them better manage the stress, anxiety, and exhaustion that comes hand-in-hand with their role as parents. Here are some of the many ways parents can benefit from running.

1. Running Helps Relieve Stress and Anxiety

Parenting is a physically and emotionally demanding job that can lead to lots of stress, physical tension and anxiety, and running is an excellent way to release it. Even if you can only go for 20 minutes with the jogging stroller before your kid starts scream, you’ll still get some anxiety relief benefits. Feeling more relaxed will help you be more calm and patient with your kids, so it’s a win-win scenario for everyone.

2. Running Shows You Care About Yourself

By seeing you taking time for yourself by running regularly, your kids will learn the importance of maintaining healthy habits. While they may not follow in your footsteps and start running, they’ll still be more likely to learn by example and develop other healthy habits. You can be a role model for them, without having to feel like you’re always nagging them.

3. Running Makes You Happy

The saying, “You’re only as happy as your least happy child” rings true for a lot of parents. They deeply feel their kids’ pain and disappointments, and their kids’ moods affect their own moods. Running gives parents a break from their own, as well as their kids’, emotional struggles.  When you start running, your body will release those “feel good” chemicals that can boost your mood. And that happiness can be contagious, as your kids pick up on your post-run bliss.

4. Running Gives You an Energy Boost

Kids can be little energy-zappers. Dealing with their constant physical and emotional needs can leave you feeling totally depleted. Running, walking, and other forms of cardiovascular exercise help release potent feel-good hormones like endorphins, which help boost your energy even hours later. Even if you think you’re too tired to run, just try going for a quick 10-minute jog. Most likely, you’ll feel invigorated after you’re warmed-up and want to keep going.

5. Running Gives Your Life More Structure

Parents often find themselves going in lots of different directions, with constantly changing schedules and priorities. By starting a running habit, your runs will become focal points in your week. You’ll plan other things around them, and your days will have more structure. And by being more disciplined and organized, you’ll be a great role model for your kids.

6. Running Will Give You a Confidence Boost

All parents struggle with whether they’re making the right choices for our kids and they sometimes doubt their abilities. As you build your fitness with running, cross finish lines, and complete running goals, your self-confidence will improve and that will flow into your parenting role. You’ll feel more equipped to handle all the challenges you face while raising kids.

7. Running Gives You Time to Yourself

As a parent, you may find it hard to carve out some time for yourself. Going for a run a few times a week will give you some quiet time to think, listen to music, or just zone out. Having a hard time finding that alone time? Make running a priority for yourself by getting your partner on board, joining a gym with child care, or doing a kid swap with a friend so you can both get some running time. It may seem like a hassle to fit it in, but it’s worth the effort. Having a little “me time" can help you feel more relaxed and ready to take on whatever your kids can throw at you.

8. Running Can Be a Social Outlet

While some parents savor the alone time that running can provide, others love that running gives them an outlet for socializing. Parents, especially those who are at home caring for young children, often feel isolated and crave adult conversation and companionship. Look for a running group or stroller running club in your area, or buddy up with a fellow mom or dad and make a commitment to run together at least once a week. In addition to improving your motivation to run, expanding your social network through running can lead to other personal and professional benefits.

9. Running Will Help You Sleep Better

Whether you’re waking up for late-night feedings or waiting up for teenagers, as a parent, you're probably sleep-deprived and exhausted. And all the stresses of parenting sometimes make it harder for you to fall asleep. Runners find that the more they run, the more their bodies crave sleep since it repairs itself while you’re resting. And research confirms that exercise can help you fall asleep faster and increase your sleep time.

10. Running Can Provide Family Bonding Time

If you're a parent of older kids, running together may be a way to spend some quality time with your kids. Even if your kids don't want to run, they could ride their bikes on a path as you run alongside them. Local running races are also a great way for families to connect. Kids can cheer their parents on during their races, and then participate in kids' races.

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Article Sources
  •  “Aerobic exercise improves self-reported sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia” Reid, Kathryn J., PhD, et. al., Sleep Medicine 2010 Oct; 11(9): 934-940.