How Busy Moms Can Find Time to Exercise

Moms Exercise

Moms Exercise

Sticking with an exercise routine can be a struggle for anyone, but squeezing in workouts can feel darn near impossible for moms. After all, how are you supposed to find time to work out when you can’t even go to the bathroom undisturbed? And that’s not even considering all of the postpartum issues some moms have to deal with by themselves. But they don’t have to deal with this alone, and that’s where I come in as a women’s health and pelvic floor PT. We are the doctors that most women are never told to see, even though we are perhaps the ones they need to see most. At least that’s the case in the United States.

Between caring for kids, workplace demands, household chores, doctor appointments, school, and all the rest, precious little time remains for moms to sweat. So, I wanted to share with you some of my best tips for making exercise a reality and a priority. (It’s possible. I swear!)

1. Put first things first. Work out before the day gets away from you. If I waited until after work, I’d never get my workout in; too many activities and commitments compete for my attention. No one will schedule a

meeting at 5:30 a.m.; that’s your time to sweat. Another reason to sweat early is that you’re finished before the kids wake up!

2. Block it out. If you have an appointment on your calendar, chances are you show up; that same tactic will help you find time for your sweat sessions. If you set aside specific times in your planner, they feel more like an appointment you have to keep. Each Sunday, manage your family’s calendar. I block out “Dawn goes to yoga” on Thursday nights, so my husband knows it’s his night to pick up our daughters and prepare dinner. I do the same for him. Schedule it as part of your day and make it non-negotiable.

3. Have a plan for how you’ll sweat. Once you’ve penciled in your workout, don’t forget to think about what you’ll actually do once you get to the gym. It’s one thing to find the motivation to work out; it’s another thing to find the motivation to figure out what to do for a workout. If you know beforehand exactly what you plan to do, you make it happen.

4. Don’t worry about your outfit. Printed capris or plain black? Tank top or t-shirt? Don’t waste your little free time debating wardrobe choices. To make it to your early morning workout, lay out your clothes the night before. Heck, sleep in your workout clothes if that helps! Eliminating that one step of figuring out what to wear makes getting up at 5 a.m. easier.

5. Include your kids. It’s hard to find dedicated “alone time” as a parent—but do you really need it? I struggled with finding time to work out alone without the kids. I quickly learned that wasn’t always possible. I’ve embraced working out with my girls, and they see that I am a strong woman who enjoys working out. You should ditch the “either-or” attitude. Children instinctively love to move. Resistance bands are great for playing “hop over,” and BOSU balls make fun mini trampolines. As your children grow older, workouts can be bonding time. I’ve always made a point of introducing my daughters to fitness. Now my oldest daughter runs with me a few times a week, and we’ve already run our first 5k and Thanksgiving “turkey trot” together.

6. Make the jungle gym your bootcamp. Who says that you’re too old to play outside? I remember taking our daughters to the playground, and I played right along with them. A game of tag or freeze tag anyone? I’ll do triceps dips off a
bench, incline push-ups, step ups on a bench, and try to do a pull- up on the monkey bars. Those little bursts of activity do add up quickly!

7. Run with them. When your children’s increasingly early wake-up times threaten to ruin your early morning jog, run with them. I remember placing them in the jogging stroller and taking them with me. I’d sing and chat during our run together. Instead of spoiling my run, it just made it a little bit sweeter. It may require a bit more planning since the kids have to be

dressed and you have to pack snacks, books and drinks, but it’s a great way to spend time with them while exercising.

8. Take to the streets. Being a soccer mom in a minivan is cliché—so ditch the ride. Since we live in San Diego and weather permits nearly year-round, we make our commute an active one. Attempt to walk your kids to school, or bike to work. We live about a mile and a half from our daughters’ elementary school, so if the weather is nice we can base exercise on trips to and from school.

9. Audit your schedule. Regular exercisers don’t find time, they “take” time. Most of us have unused chunks of time in our day—30-minutes spent on Facebook or Instagram, 10-minute intervals spent checking email or cleaning. Pay attention to how you’re spending your time, and figure out from which activities you could “take” time. If possible, lump all those chunks together and use them for a workout. If not, spread your activity throughout the day.

10. Music class is for them; gym class is for you. Between soccer practice, ballet, or music lessons, kids are sometimes as busy as their parents these days. Use the time that your kids are in classes wisely. Your kids are getting their fitness in, why shouldn’t you? While my daughters are at soccer practice, I squeeze in time on the track. My kids decompress from their school day, get some exercise, and connect with their friends on the soccer field—and I get to do the

same on the track. Naptime is another prime time to squeeze in a workout. As soon as your kids go down for a nap, leave them with Dad and go out for a run or to the gym. Usually, you’ll be back by the time they wake up and everyone is refreshed.

11. Don’t beat yourself up. Let’s face it, life happens in the form of sick days, tantrums, and gigantic messes that won’t clean themselves. Some days I only have time for a few miles instead of the planned five or six miles on my training plan. Learn to accept the time you do have, and make the most of it. The next day, I might run the miles faster than planned or run a few more miles to make up for it. If you do miss a day, don’t stress. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Do your best for you.

12. Make any space a home gym.

While not making it to the gym or a class is a convenient excuse, the truth is, you don’t need special fitness equipment or a gym membership to work out. If you’re truly stuck at home, use what you have at your disposal. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a chair, but you’d be surprised at the range of exercises you can do with a chair!

13. Make it worth it. At the end of the day, spending more time with your family is always a priority. Working full-time, traveling, running a business, and everything else means less time with my children. One of the mantras I’ve adopted is: “Make it worth it.” If you’re going to choose to run or

go to the gym rather than spend time with your children, you better make sure you’re pushing yourself the entire time.

So, there you have 13 of my best tips on how busy moms can find time to exercise. The excuses are many, but only if you let yourself make them. I understand fitting fitness into a busy schedule is hard, and exercise is often the first thing to get scratched from the calendar. But, with a little forethought and planning, it’s doable. Make your well-being a priority.

Just don’t allow yourself to think of your health as a secondary priority. When you are happy and healthy, everyone else has a better shot of following suit.

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Dawn Andalon, DPT, MTC, CPI

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