Get set to be a fit mum

My friend Sarah has two boys aged two-and-a-half and four, and she works part-time. But for the past year, she's been playing netball with the girls on a Wednesday evening. 'It's my me-time,' she says. 'It keeps me fit, too.' And she certainly looks fab as a result.

I'm not a natural gym bunny, but I do know that exercise boosts your energy levels, make you feel better, and if you want to shape up for summer, it'll help you get there faster, too. But often getting started is the hardest part – particularly if there's something on TV or a bar of chocolate with your name on it in the fridge. So I asked celebrity fitness guru Nicki Waterman (www.nickiwaterman.com) for her top tips to help motivate mums.

 
Here they are:

  1. Take the first step. This is the hardest part – but once you get into a routine, you'll find it easier to carry on. Make a plan, too – you're more likely to stick to a routine if you have your goals written down.
  2. Get support. Tell your family and friends you want to start exercising again. Ask your partner or a friend or relative if they can look after the kids while you go to the gym or to play a sport or for a run. If you have young children or a baby, find out if there's a local mother-and-baby group that go powerwalking or jogging with their prams once a week – it's a great way to make friends, too. Or maybe your local gym has a creche. And if you have a friend who is keen to exercise, join forces – you'll be able to support each other.
  3. Pace yourself. Start off slowly – if you don't, you'll burn out completely and probably injure yourself, too.
  4. Choose exercise you enjoy. If the gym isn't for you, try netball, yoga or running instead. Or invest in a workout CD so you can exercise in your living room.
  5. Exercise with your kids. Play a game of football, tennis or rounders in the park with them, chase them round the garden, or if they're older, go for a run with them.

'Often being a parent means putting everyone else first instead of yourself,' adds Nicki. 'I believe you need your own time and to look after yourself properly before you can 'give back' to everyone around you. Whether it's to lose weight, get fit or make new friends, exercise will have a positive effect on your life.'

written by Liz Jarvis