My Best Fitness Tips for Busy Moms

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Exercise is an important part of my life, not only because of my job, but because of what it does for me personally.  Exercise helps me relieve stress, makes me feel good about myself, and since I've become a mom, it's one of the few things I do these days that’s all my own.  I’ve blogged in the past about being a busy mom of three small children, and most of the time I put 110% of my effort toward my kids, leaving little for me.  I know that’s not good (and something I need to work on), but one thing I do try to make time for almost daily is exercise. 
Whether it means getting up early, squeezing in a few 10-minute workouts throughout the day or doing a quick video while they nap, exercise calms me and helps me get through a busy day without a (mommy) meltdown. 
Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, so whether or not you exercise comes down to how you choose to spend your time.  It’s not always easy, and just because I exercise regularly doesn’t mean I pop out of bed at 5 a.m., excited and energized to work out.  I have to drag myself out of bed most days, and some days, my scheduled workout doesn’t happen.  I do the best I can.
So if you’re a busy mom like me, how do you begin to find time for exercise?  Here are a few suggestions that work for me.
5 Fitness Strategies for Moms
  • Get others around you on board with your commitment.  You can’t do everything for everyone all the time. Sometimes, you need help.    My husband knows exercise is important to me, so he helps me find time for workouts whenever he can.  He will watch the kids while I go for a run after he gets home from work, or sometimes he’ll even suggest I do a quick workout when he can tell it’s been a rough day.  My dad (a fellow runner) also offers to watch my kids while I run.  Having the support of my family makes the commitment so much easier.    

  • Schedule it as part of your day just like anything else.  If you’re like me, your appointment calendar is full of tasks related to work and family.  Why shouldn’t you budget time for your workout too?  Plan your workouts for the week ahead and write them down on your calendar.  You wouldn’t skip a meeting at the office or your child’s school, so treat your exercise appointments with the same importance

  • Accept that some days will be easier than others, but success is just hanging in there.  There are days when my run is going really well and I would love to keep going, but I’ve literally run out of time.  There are days when the calendar gets turned upside down and my workout doesn’t happen at all, or days when 10 minutes is all I’ve got.  As long as most days, things work out as planned, that’s all you can ask for as a busy mom trying to juggle it all.  

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.  Just because you don’t have an hour to exercise doesn’t mean 10 or 15 minutes aren’t worth the effort.  Even small amounts of exercise can add up to big results. 

  • Get creative.  Don’t use “lack of time” as an excuse not to exercise.  Involve your kids, break your workout into shorter segments throughout the day, or use time at your child’s soccer practice to get in a workout.  If you are willing to make exercise a priority in your life, sometimes you’ll have to do it in less-than-ideal conditions.  I’d much rather have an hour to myself to exercise, but if it’s 20 minutes with my kids in the room, at least it’s something!
Mom-Approved Workout Products
Since I’m usually short on time, I like workouts that are quick and easy that I can do at home.  I’ve invested in some key pieces of equipment that allow me to squeeze in a workout anytime.  There’s no reason you can’t get a good workout at home, whether you’ve got a lot or very minimal amount of money to spend.  Here are a few at-home options that I use on a regular basis:

Bowflex Treadmill

I’m lucky enough to have a treadmill in the basement (which was well-worth the investment), so I use that a few times a week in the early morning or when my kids are napping.  Yes, it was expensive, but I’ve used it multiple times a week for the past 6 years and never had any problems with this particular treadmill. I highly recommend it.

I also use exercise videos for strength training a few times a week.  Here are just a few of my favorites:
Coach Nicole's 28-Day Bootcamp

No, I’m not being paid to recommend this video—I really do like it! It’s a regular part of my exercise video “rotation” that I use for strength training.   The video is great for beginners or more advanced exercisers.  The 20 and 30-minute routines are my favorites.  See more reviews of '28 Day Boot Camp' here.

Jackie Warner’s Xtreme Time-Saver Training

I’ve used this DVD for a few years now (coming back to it for a week or two every few months) and always feel like it gives me a good workout.  It has good instruction and options for beginner or more advanced moves, too.  

Amy Dixon’s Give Me 10!

This video is great if I need to break my workout into shorter segments throughout the day.  Each one is just 10 minutes long.  Amy Dixon is a good instructor and always demonstrates proper form (which can’t be said for every video instructor!). 

I purchased some basic strength training equipment to create my own routines (and I use SparkPeople's free Workout Generator for routine ideas).  I also use this equipment to do some of the videos on SparkPeople.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Stability Ball

A stability ball can be used in so many different ways to target your upper body, lower body and core.  It can also double as a chair if you want to work on your posture and core strength while at the computer or watching TV. 

Resistance Bands

Resistance bands are an inexpensive way to get a challenging workout.  Although hand weights are great, you have to buy multiple sizes in order to get a challenging, full-body workout.  The nice thing about resistance bands is that one pack can give you all of the options you need.  

My workouts are shorter than they used to be before I had kids.  Someday, I hope to start marathon training again, but right now, that’s just not a priority.  I’ve come to accept that I can still be strong and fit no matter how many kids I’m toting around or how much time I have available.  And if you’re committed and use your time wisely, you can be too!
What tips do you have to help busy moms find time for exercise?  What at-home workouts do you enjoy and recommend?