Parents are busy. Between working (in the home or out of the home), caregiving (whatever your family situation), and all things kid (there are HOW many little league games this week?), finding time for yourself can be hard. Finding time to exercise? Well, that can often seem like less of a priority than getting your kids to soccer.

{{… And when it comes to choosing between 30 minutes with your favorite sitcom and a glass of wine after the kiddos are in bed — or hopping on the treadmill — we all know which one is more tempting.}}

As the old mantra goes, you can’t take care of anyone if you can’t take care of yourself. I know, I know. It’s easy to say that. But here’s why you NEED to make time for exercise every day — besides the fact that it’s good for your heart.

Brain Benefits of Exercise for Parents - (cool) progeny

Brain Benefits of Exercise

Stress Relief

Jumping on the treadmill or cross trainer for 30 minutes can blow off tension by increasing levels of “soothing” brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. (US News and World Report). Yes, that’s right. It’s soothing. We could all use a little of that.

Brain Power Boost

Studies suggest that a tough workout increases levels of a brain-derived protein (known as BDNF) in the body, believed to help with decision making, higher thinking and learning (New York Times). Tone and hone your decision-making skills and your muscles!

Sharper Memory

According to a Huff Post article, exercise improves your ability to learn new things (they cite a study where running helped adults learn). Not claiming you won’t forget that Friday is Pajama Party Day for Kid #1 and the field trip permission slip for Kid #2. But maybe it’ll happen less often.

Mood Enhancer

“Exercise is really for the brain, not the body. It affects mood, vitality, alertness, and feelings of well-being,” said John J. Ratey, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in a Web MD article. Bad day? Go for a walk, jog or start lifting something. You’ll feel better and be a more present parent. When mom (or dad) is happy, everyone is happy.

Luckily for us, local health and wellness centers like the Maryland Athletic Club make it easy for you to exercise every day. With a diverse class schedule (yoga before work? Cross train at lunch? Zumba after the kids go to sleep?), multiple locations, and a convenient kids club to watch the wee ones while you work out, there’s no reason to skip your 30 minutes of me time. If you’re new to exercise you can try their Healthy Start Program. New members can take advantage of their 25 day Membership for $25 promotion — which will do your heart a double dose of good. All proceeds from the promotion benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. But hurry! Promotion ends June 15, 2014.

Exercise is hands down the best “me” time you can give yourself.

PS – The kids club gets RAVE (and I mean rave) reviews from our unofficial pint-sized testers.

Free Family Fitness Night!

The Maryland Athletic Club will host host the Friday Family Fitness Night at MAC Timonium on Friday, May 30th from 5:00 to 9:00 PM. This FREE event has great activities for every member of your family. And (cool) progeny will be there with special activities! GET THE SCOOP
 This article is sponsored by Maryland Athletic Club in celebration of National Health and Fitness Month.