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. Check out my full review of this DVD.

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!). Coach Nicole reviewed this DVD in the past before giving it to me to keep!

 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?

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What I prefer to do as a busy working mom is take my kids to a gym where they have an excellent childcare facility.
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I love all of the vids you have posted. I especially love Jackie Warner. She can whip you into shape rather quickly. There are so many more that I love, but the few you posted are excellent choices. Love your blog! Report
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My jogging stroller is the most used baby thing we bought! I don't know what I would do without it. I try to get out everyday for a walk or run. She loves the fresh air and seeing the neighborhood, sometimes she even naps! It's great I get exercise and my daughter is entertained! Report
I know for me just walking on my breaks at work has made a huge difference. I get two 15 minute breaks which I power walk during, so there is my half hour. At night while I'm watching the news I'll do some dumbell work or ab work to get some strength training in. Report
I walk nearly every day with the stroller. Instead of driving to the library, I walk the 40 minutes every second week. I am doing the 30 day squat challenge (which I can do even with a little one climbing my leg) and I love the quick videos on Spark that I can squeak in. I really love the 10 minutes a day approach - I used to feel like if I couldn't do an hour long workout, it wasn't even worth it. I feel so much better now working out regularly even if it's just bits at a time. Report
Thanks for the motivation! Sometimes I use being a mom an excuse for not working out but now as I can see a lot of moms are busy and still have the time for a work out. I can do it too ! :) Report
This is a good article because it makes SENSE! I also want to add that I love the suggestions of equipment used and videos as well as the basic items. It just rounds everything out to "I can do this!!" Thanks for a great article :o) Report
My only "child" is our dog, but I read this because I suspected it would have good ideas for any busy person, and it did. Thank you for the suggestions and encouragement! Report
I have older children but am a homeschool mom. We also live in the country and the closest gym is 20 miles away so I work out at home. We live in a modular and have NO room for treadmill, so I recommend any of the Leslie Sansone walking dvds. Report
This is a great blog, Jen! I also have to do like you mentioned, breaking up workouts into doable time periods, waking up early some days--when I can--and I work to get longer workouts whenever it's possible. Even when I'm at work expressing milk, rather than just sit there for 15-20 minutes, I do squats and calf raises, alternating between the two for reps. Abs can be given a little workout while I'm sitting at my desk... and I include my girls when I can, even if it means making a workout a little less intense--my daughter and I walk backwards at the track, or alternate between walking at speeds her little legs will allow and "running" where she's running and I'm going a little more at my own speed. On days when traffic isn't too bad, I stop by the house for a quick DVD workout or online video before heading to the daycare to pick them up. And some days, I just wait until they're in bed before I try to get some quiet exercises done--even low-impact aerobics is loud enough to wake my younger girl--but getting them both to sleep at night before I'm ready to collapse, myself, is pretty rare. Report
Great article, Jen! It is hard to get over the 'mommy guilt' every time I am alone and doing something I enjoy, but I have also realized over time that I need it for my own mental health. However, from seeing my husband and I making time to exercise, I believe my son sees exercise as an important part of his day, too, which is great! Report
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For all you busy moms out there, I heard a tip that if you have a stroller to push and still want to keep your phone in your hand, get a LAZY-HANDS Phone Grip and wear your phone on the back of your hand like a ring; you still have your whole hand to grab and push your stroller! It's $8.99 and attaches to your phone or case. I love it! Report
I find is especially important as a mother of a 3-year-old girl, to set an example on healthy living. I am a single mother with a 10-hour work-day, so the couple of hours that we have at home between arriving home and her bedtime, we scrub/chop/steam veggies together of all different colours, and if we still have time, she gets to work out with me in the basement. There's nothing cuter than a 3-year-old following along to a workout video better than I can... :) we love staying active together and walking our dog together. I was taught healthy habits as a child, and I hope to teach her the same... but possibly in a fun atmosphere so that she holds onto them throughout her teenage/young adult life (where I slipped up) Report
"... but success is just hanging in there."

Truer words were never spoken! : ) Report
We all get a great workout walking to school, which is one of the only ways I have found to get consistant exercise. It benefits me and my older kids (my jogger stroller is the best investment in the world!) We have races and make it fun, and it gives me wonderful talk-time with each of them. Before they were in school we ran other errands on foot--grocery store for small things, the park, etc. When they are too big for the stroller, but too little to walk such long distances, they take their scooters.

My biggest problem is winter when the sidewalks and roads are too dangerous. Recently I've discovered that my four-year-old loves dance videos, so we do them together as often as possible, and it is a blast! I wish I could find more. Report