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!)

For Play Dates
Keep in mind the old adage that children live what they learn. If you don't want your kids to be couch potatoes, be a good example. Walk to the library for story hour; plan regular play times at the park or pool; when snow keeps you home, go play in it. By making physical activity fun, you'll lay the foundation for your kids to have healthy, active lives. What’s more, you’ll rediscover that activity can be fun—not just another item to check off your grown-up list!


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Member Comments

  • Good ways to work in more exercise. I saved the article to refer back to
  • Some great and easy ideas in this article to incorporate movement into daily chores and activities! Excellent and novel ideas!
  • Good article and I do try to keep up with the exercises.
  • Let's see how Rebecca Pratt handles it with 3 kids fulltime!
  • all that running around in itself is a workout routine. get creative with it and enjoy
  • Great advice for everyone, I am going to put some of these into action. Before I got off track with my weight loss and exercise goals, anytime I was waiting in line, I would to stretches or sway from side to side. Making the most of every situation. Keep Sparking y'all
  • Wow - no one has commented on this oldie for a year. Use your drive time at red lights - how can anyone consider doing something so incredibly stupid yet alone advocating it. When you are driving you need to pay attention. Wonder if the "expletive" who cut me off right after a red light was still flexing their feet to hit the gas.

    The best way to have a healthy lifestyle and work in what is important is to say NO. Kids need creative play time not just organized sports .... interesting that what is supposed to raise healthy kids has instead resulted in an explosion of obesity. And then you read about free range kids - like there is something wrong with kids walking home from school alone - or going to the park or - name that activity. How do we teach kids today to be responsible if they are "kids" until they go away to college (where now they don't have to work).
  • Up front and pure honest help for the CEO moms who keep American homes up and running like they should be (no pun intended) : )
    My past experience as a CEO working mom applauds you for the great tools you've placed on the table!!
    Thank You Becky!
  • 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.
  • 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
  • GREAT !

    THANKS for sharing
  • Good article. I try to get exercise in a little every time I am doing something.
  • I do a few 'sink push-ups' in every room I clean.

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.