Hannah the Runner gives us her top 5 reasons for lacing up your sneaks and getting your run on!

If exercise was a pill we’d all be taking it.

We all know we’re supposed to exercise. Some of us even know the recommended amount (150 minutes a week). We know we’re supposed to, but how many of us do? I believe that exercise is extra important for parents. Here are 5 blooming good reasons why everyone with children should exercise:

1. Exercise is good for your memory and thinking

If your children are anything like mine you can sometimes feel like you’re trapped in an episode of Mastermind. “Mummy, what’s 16 + 16… and what’s 32 + 32… and what’s 64 + 64… and what’s 128 + 128…” “Can you spell ‘onomatopoeia’?” “Which planet spins the opposite way to all the others?” “Who’s you favourite Paw Patrol pup?” “Why did the dinosaurs die?” “How does your hair grow?” “When was the Stone Age?”.

Exercise makes your brain cells grow. Increasing your heart rate promotes blood flow and oxygen to your brain, and exercise stimulates hormones that help brain cells grow. So you can be as brainy as your offspring!

2. Being fit helps you keep up with your children

Anyone who has tried to chase a three year old on a scooter will appreciate the benefits of being able to run, and if your children are a little bit older it’s really nice to be able to beat them in a swimming race occasionally, or join them for a bike ride. Being fit enough to keep up with your children feels really good. You can be the parent who joins in with football in the park and all the other children think is brilliant.

3. By exercising you set a good example for your children

None of us wants our children to be unfit. Children learn by copying. So if they see their parents making the time and investing the effort to be active they will see that as normal behaviour. You can enjoy physical activity as a family and individually. They can come and cheer you on in your sport in the same way as you come and watch them. Imagine if you were your child’s biggest role model. How awesome would it be to all be proud of each other’s achievements?

4. Physical activity helps you cope with stress

There are days when climbing Kilimanjaro would be easier than doing the school run. Parenthood can be… what’s the right word… challenging. Exercise changes your brain chemistry in a good way, relieving feelings of stress, treating mild to moderate anxiety and preventing depression. It’s been scientifically proven that even gentle activity will make you feel happier. Exercise is a cheap, legal, healthy, socially acceptable way to cope.

5. If you exercise you won’t just live longer… you’ll live better

We can’t all be the granny who wins powerlifting competitions or the grandpa who runs marathons, but if you build exercise into your normal life now and keep it up long-term you’ll be the kind of grandparent who’s still able to chase around the park at 70, get down on the floor to do LEGO… and get back up again. Weight bearing exercise helps maintain bone density in women. Exercise protects against illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Keeping active keeps you active. Use it or lose it!

Okay, so there’s five reasons to get off the sofa and go to pilates tonight; to get out of the car and cycle to work a couple of times a week; to take your children to junior parkrun on Sunday.

If you’re not currently exercising start small and build up gradually. Try a few different things, but try them more than once. Sometimes it takes a couple of goes to know if you like something or not. There are so many different activities you can try, and ways that exercise is becoming more accessible for everyone: walking football, men-only yoga. If the memory of sport at school makes you shudder, try something you didn’t do at school.

I honestly believe that there’s an activity out there for everyone. When you find the right thing it won’t feel like something you supposed to do, it will be something you want to do. It takes an average of 66 days for a behaviour to become a habit – that’s one reason why our Couch to 5K beginners running course is nine weeks.

And finally a little plug for Hannah the Runner… obviously I’m biased, but in my professional opinion running is the best exercise to get into. You can go straight out of your front door, you can go with friends or alone, you only need a pair of trainers, comfortable clothes and a sports bra (if you have breasts), there are a huge number of events to join in with if you want to, and you can fit a run in at any time of the day or night.

If you’d like help to start running please get in touch and we’ll give you sensible advice on how to do it safely and simply. At Hannah the Runner we offer affordable group courses for anyone age 12 and over, plus advice and support from our team of coaches and runners, but there’s no hard sell because that’s absolutely not my style. We’re on facebook, instagram and twitter @hannahtherunner – or on the interwebz www.hannahtherunner.com.

Now turn off your device and go and be active!