For the study, researchers followed more than 100 working, single mothers over a week and examined how their mindsets while balancing work and family tasks affected the likelihood of exhibiting healthy behaviors during their downtime.
They found that family demands on working mothers make exercise much less likely when compared to people with fewer responsibilities. However, individual perspective made a difference.
“Regardless of how busy a mother was, when she lived in the moment and felt like she was in control of her schedule, she was more likely to make time for exercise,” says Danielle King, assistant professor of psychological sciences at Rice University and coauthor of the study.
In addition, a present-focused mindset made mothers more likely to maintain a feeling of control as demands on their time increased, King says. This helped explain why some people with demanding schedules made time for health behaviors and others did not.