Business mom with baby.With so much to do already the idea of regular exercise can seem daunting. The truth is, it might just be easier to tackle all the things on your to do list when it includes a few regular workouts each week. Exercise boosts your energy levels and brain power while reducing stress, anxiety and insomnia. In other words, exercise helps you feel better in countless ways. When you feel better you do better with managing even the busiest life.

Give up guilt

Perfect homes with shiny floors and dish free sinks are the stuff of fairy tales. Likewise, the mother as martyr is a myth. Let it go. When you always put yourself last you are likely to find that others will often follow your example. When there is a choice between working out and mopping the floor, try as often as reasonably possible to choose exercise. Exercise is an important kind of self care.

Dress the part

Wear your sneakers to soccer, ballet or whatever play dates you have scheduled for the kids. Take a walk around the track or the block instead of waiting on a bench. Let this be your time to get in the fitness game.

Make fitness a family affair

This is the perfect strategy whether you have toddlers, teens or in betweens. Younger children need mommy time as well as many opportunities to move. Biking, hiking and swimming can be good activities to enjoy as a family. Plus, you get to boost your fitness. Older children still need you but are often reluctant to reach out. Make even tough conversations easier with an activity buffer. It is often easier for kids to connect over a game of ball or while training for a race than it is when seated at a table.

Be realistic

Busy moms don’t think they have time to work out. You do. Maybe you can’t go to the gym for an hour three times each week but you can sneak in 15 or 20 minute sessions at home. Pop in a DVD or download a fitness program and get moving. Have even less time? Run up and down your stairs for 5 minutes every other day and build up from there.

Wear a pedometer

You can improve your health and even lose weight just by taking a few extra steps each day. Determine where you are and increase gradually to 12,000 to 15,000 daily.

Get a fitness buddy

Fitness buddies are good for accountability, motivation and, sometimes, even childcare. Talk with a friend that shares similar fitness goals. Agree to hold each other accountable, be supportive and take turns with the kids. Even if you have to go it alone sometimes that is okay – that is better than not exercising at all. The good part is you can savor your success together.

Given many of the health challenges we face exercise can no longer be seen as optional. Even if you are a busy mom you owe it to your future self – if you want her to be healthy – to get out there and break a sweat. A bonus: kids often do what we do instead of what we say. When you choose to exercise you can feel proud that you are modeling healthy habits for them while doing something good and necessary for you.