Fitness Articles

Squeezing in Exercise

How I Learned to Stay Active on the Run

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I'm not a real mom, but I did play one once.

Some friends of mine, planning an overseas trip, asked me to stay with their boys while they were gone. Honored to be chosen-- especially after I heard that the boys, ages 12, 14, and 16, had approved my appointment-- I took a deep breath and plunged in.

Boy, was it an education! When I wasn't planning menus, budgeting, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up, I was on the run: chauffeuring, doing laundry, playing homework cop, high-tailing forgotten permission slips over to school, and herding kids to bed. Following the daily schedule left by my friend (a blow-by-blow timeline in 15-minute increments, punctuated with humorous asides like "It's now 8:20 and you're late for choir practice—again!"), I kept trying to find a slot for the gym. Used to long lovely stretches of time, I now had it in snatches. Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. I finally realized that if I was going to get in any exercise, I’d have to make the most of those little snatches of time.

Here are some ideas I followed that helped me fit in small bits of fitness in small bits of time:

During Drive Time
Try some isometric exercises: Squeeze your glutes, contract your abs, work your calves by raising your legs up on your toes at red lights. Park far away from your destination so you’ll have to walk; arrive early to your event if possible to allow time for a brisk walk.

At Programs, Practices, and Games
Walk around the facility before or after the event; look for chances to combine a class or activity with those of your children. For example, take aerobics while your daughter has basketball practice.

While Keeping House
Shop at big stores where there’ll be lots of walking; do meal prep and cleanup with a little music and dancing. Clean to music, and shun some of your labor saving devices (like remotes). When doing yard work, keep moving! Use your leg and glute muscles (instead of your back) to shovel, rake, move dirt, etc.

When doing laundry, do squats to pick up unfolded laundry from the basket, and take fitness breaks during homework time, such as stretching or jumping rope for three minutes. (Your kids will love it!) Become your dog’s best friend-- most dogs are always ready to boogie. (And let me tell you, when you walk a dog on a regular basis, boy can you feel the love!)
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About The Author

Rebecca Pratt Rebecca Pratt
A freelance writer who contributes to various newspapers and magazines, Becky loves covering ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Member Comments

  • This article struck a deep emotional chord for me, because she describes my life. When I had little children at home, I used to wonder what those stay-at-home moms did with all that free time once all the kids were in full day school. I tell you what, those few hours every day disappear quickly just running a household, and then the kids get out of school, and I am on duty for the next 7 hours doing the same things she describes above.
    Thanks for the article. It makes me feel understood as I am about to squeeze in some exercise while I watch TV and then fold laundry. - 2/28/2014 3:10:40 PM
  • I don't think that modern life necessitates filling every minute of the day. The description of the person's day in this article sounds like she's barely above water. It's only when you slow down that you can truly appreciate what life has to offer. Thank you, Glenn - 2/18/2014 2:45:53 AM
  • GREAT !

    THANKS for sharing - 11/28/2013 9:27:56 PM
  • Good article. I try to get exercise in a little every time I am doing something.
    - 7/6/2013 7:57:41 PM
  • I do a few 'sink push-ups' in every room I clean. - 3/20/2013 9:28:32 PM
  • Just as the experts suggest when the kids are young, "sleep when they sleep," I always exercise while my daughter is at sports practice.
    - 11/29/2012 2:56:31 PM
  • This is a wonderful article. I have no kids at home and although I am retired I have a busy schedule which involves sitting activities (no, that's not an oxymoron) including a lot of time in the car. This is the first Sparkarticle I am going to hang up on the fridge (I have many in a computer file) as a daily reminder. LOVE the suggestions!
    I quote one of the above Sparkcomments: "There is no excuse not to exercise; you can find opportunities everywhere if you really want to. " - 11/29/2012 12:18:39 PM
  • @ MISSLAURAQ72
    you write you cannot understand that people without kids can get fat. I don't take this personally, because I'm not obese, but as an explanation:
    People react differently to events in life. Emotional stress for example, can be a cause for intensive workouts (like you would do, as I assume), but also for emotional eating up to eating disorders, or for aggression or depression. Those are just some of the ways people cope with intensive life events, depending on their personality. Many of them are here to change into a healthy way of dealing with things, like you obviously already do. Don't judge them on how they react, but inspire and encouragy them to change to a better way of dealing with everything :-)

    PS: please excuse my writing, I'm not an English native speaker. - 11/29/2012 5:02:24 AM
  • 1 hour is less than 5% of your day!! Think about that :) - 11/20/2012 9:54:24 AM
  • I think they should have added "dancing" while driving. :) - 10/29/2012 6:08:17 PM
  • MARGOT814
    Well,if iam sitting down,I contract my glutes as many times as I can, alternate with legs exercises .
    And most of the times I do abs excse by contracting it as hard and as long as I can without holding my breath.I do that everytime I remember that it becomes a habit. - 5/19/2012 9:48:27 PM
  • I hope this is not taken a bad way - as it's not meant to.

    I have two kids - mostly the only way I get to work out is 1) I take them to the daycare at the gym or 2) leave them at home with my husband. I just do not get in a good workout with them around.

    Plus I know if I didn't have kids I would be even thinner. I don't understnd how people without kids get overweight. Before kids I exercised at my leisure and watched what I ate. But still splurged now and then.

    If I didn't have kids my husband knows I'd be at the gym every night - I just enjoy it. - 5/11/2012 11:42:19 AM
  • I would get NO exercise if I did it in front of the TV!!! - 12/5/2011 2:03:00 PM
  • I squeeze in exercise on my job as a housekeeper. Do cruches when I check under beds. Take the stairs to other floors. - 4/4/2011 10:32:35 PM
  • I have three kids-all involved in sports/other activities. It's a rough schedule sometimes. I agree with the suggestions in the article. There is no excuse not to exercise; you can find opportunities everywhere if you really want to. Last night my husband and I walked 2 miles round trip to Subway with our 6-year old. He thought it was an awesome adventure finding bugs, frogs, etc. and we worked off much of our dinner. The walk only took 35-40 minutes, normally time we would use to make dinner, so it was perfect! - 7/30/2010 1:34:16 PM
Popular Calories Burned Searches: Heavy Cleaning or house cleaning  |  Moving: carrying boxes  |  Step-Ups: vigorous

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