Not Exercising Is Worse For You Than Smoking, New Research Says, But Here's Why Moms Shouldn't Worry

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Finding time to hit the gym in the midst of packing lunches, organizing playdates, and all of the other endless tasks on a mom's to-do list can be rough. But there is actually a very good reason to prioritize that workout. According to new research conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, not exercising is worse for you than smoking. So how do moms make room in their schedule to get moving? Well, you're in luck, because their days tend to burn a lot of calories as it is.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic looked at 122,007 patients from 1991 to 2014 who participated in treadmill testing, examining their mortality information, according to USA Today. Through the course of the study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers determined that high levels of aerobic exercise were linked to longevity. For this reason, the team is urging health care providers to strongly encourage their patients to exercise, as CNN reported.

Senior author of the study Dr. Wael Jaber, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, described the results as "extremely surprising," to CNN. His findings explained that “Cardiorespiratory fitness is inversely associated with long-term mortality with no observed upper limit of benefit." Additionally, according to CNN, "Extremely high aerobic fitness was associated with the greatest survival and was associated with benefit in older patients and those with hypertension.”

Put simply, exercise is one of the best investments you can make in your future health.

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The importance of exercising after becoming a mom can't be overstated. According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise after pregnancy not only promotes weight loss, but also improves cardiovascular fitness, strengthens and tones abdominal muscles, boosts your energy levels, relieves stress, and promotes better sleep. All of that sounds pretty good when facing exhaustion and sleep deprivation.

But when you consider the fact that most moms begin their days before 7 a.m. and don't finish their day until after 9 p.m., squeezing in a session at the gym isn't easy. Fitness guru Jillian Michaels, who is also a mom, knows that struggle well. She told Parents that she designed a one-minute mom workout for that very reason:

We all know mommies don’t have time to waste. We need to use our time as efficiently as possible, and that’s why training with the most metabolic techniques get the best results when short on time.
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If you're interested in including this workout in your routine, you can find it on the Jillian Michaels app. It provides a combination of high-intensity intervals and muscle exercises that Michaels told Parents help to "build core strength, stability, agility, speed, strength, and power—which every mom needs."

Even without HIIT workouts, moms burn more calories during their days than you might expect. According to CaféMom, moms burn more than 500 calories in the morning. Simply getting kids ready in the morning burns 221 calories, pushing a stroller for one hour burns 334, a graphic from Body Media shows. And by the end of lunch time, they've burned another 215 playing with their kids. Add in a trip to the grocery store and you burn another 217. By the end of the day, making dinner burns another 119 and if you go for a walk afterwards you can burn 216 more. On top of all that, if a mom is breastfeeding, she can burn as many as 500 additional calories, according to Kelly Mom.

All of that may not add up to the "intense exercise" that Jaber and his team recommend, but I don't know a single mom whose lifestyle can be described as "sedentary."

As difficult as it may be to schedule some "me time" as a mom, and then to use that time to break a sweat, the Cleveland Clinic's study makes a good case for it. So whether that looks like living room dance parties with your little ones, family walks after dinner, or solo spin classes; be sure to get moving. And thankfully, having kids will certainly help with that.