Finding Time to Exercise Is as Easy as These Eight Opportunities

By far the most common reason people don’t get around to exercise is—you guessed it—no free time. And if you think you’re too busy, according to U.S. News & World Report, you’re not alone.

Finding time to exercise can be especially difficult for parents who care for kids they can’t leave alone for very long. From the second you wake up to the second your head hits the pillow, you’re busy. Throughout the day you might have a few minutes here and there, but it’s nowhere near enough time to work out. Right?

It may surprise you, but the best exercises just ask that you rethink the time you already have. Consider these eight times during the day for your own makeshift gym routine:

Morning Cardio

This is by far my favorite time to work out, and just ten minutes in the morning can make a difference if you stick to it every day. After having a few minutes of quiet time to myself, I love to lace up and head out for a mile around the block (there are fewer cars on the road at this time, too). I’m usually back before any of my family members are awake, so I even score a few extra minutes to cool down alone. This allows you to concentrate on how you feel—a rare treat for those of us with kids.

running shoes on floor

Playtime

You don’t need to run around the house to get your heart rate up. Instead, use your own body weight by marching with your little ones in deep lunges—which engage several muscle groups in your back and thighs—and sneaking yoga poses into playtime to strengthen your core. You can also replace the rocking chair with gentle situps to rock your baby to sleep in the evening.

Speed Up Household Chores

I’ve always been a champion of getting tasks done quickly, and lately I’ve even broken a sweat. If you need to climb stairs to do laundry, put pep in your step to get your blood moving and finish the task in half the time. If you’re walking the dog, follow a few tips to challenge your muscles while you’re out.

running basement stairs

Wall Sit on a Lunch Break

If you’ve ever cringed over your child’s slow, roundabout process of finishing a midday meal, know that it’s not unnatural. Instead of waiting to clean the dish, put that time (and your quadriceps) to work by holding a wall sit and challenging him or her to finish their plate before you stand back up. Don’t say when you’ll stop, but when your legs start to shake and you hit your target heart rate, use your trembling resistance to encourage your kids to take one last bite of their vegetables.

Carpooling

Have you ever gotten to your kids’ sports practice only to find your student-athlete is the one running late this time? Believe it or not, there are a ton of exercises you can do behind the wheel as you wait. Safety is priority one, so be sure your vehicle is in park before trying any of them. My favorite exercise is the reverse crunch, wherein you slide your seat back, recline, and lift your legs up toward your chest. To compensate for a small range of motion (you’re in a car, after all), increase your holding time and number of reps.

Nap Time

This window of time is sacred to parents, which is all the more reason to dedicate a portion of it to fitness for moms. Seize the moment by doing a little circuit training using your own body weight. When finding time to exercise seems impossible, I use my kids’ naps to sneak off to the basement for a session of squats, which work your upper legs’ largest muscle groups.

woman doing squats in basement

woman doing squats in basement

Bath Time

Do you ever feel a little captive while your children splash in the bath? You need to stay nearby to supervise, but that shouldn’t limit your productivity. Try this next time you’re stuck in the bathroom with the kids: five straight-leg lifts (while sitting on the toilet seat) every time they pour water out of a cup, five mountain-climbers every time a child slaps the water’s surface, and five burpees each time they simulate a make-believe fish with their hand.

During Your Usual Veg Session

If throughout the day all you can think about is your evening TV unwind, you have a treasure of time just perfect for exercise. Instead of sitting down the minute your show starts, spend that time working out instead. It’s a challenge to follow through with this one, but you can reward yourself with a recorded version of the show as an incentive.

It’d be nice to have an hour-long outing with a personal trainer each day, but until they’re off to college, make the most of the time you do have by squeezing in some cardio, circuit training, and core-strengthening exercises to stay strong. Just remember, before starting a new exercise, always consult with your doctor.

You’re not alone—to prove it, tweet your sweaty selfie to @TomsofMaine, and we’ll give you a fist-pump!

Image source: Bethany Johnson

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

One of the best reasons to work out when you can is because you'll feel good both inside and out. Most of us crave the feeling of endorphins, clear lungs, and stimulated muscles. But when you make time to exercise against the odds, you'll also feel good knowing you overcame life's biggest obstacle: busyness.