Exercise Tips for Busy Parents

mom with stroller


When you're a parent, time is often in short supply, and exercise is one of the first things to get cut from a busy schedule (who has time for a Zumba class when you're dealing with looming work deadlines or sleepless nights?). While you may not be able to train for a marathon (right now, anyway!), there are still plenty of ways to sneak in some sweat sessions. Ready to work out? Check out these time-saving tips!

Stroller Running/Walking

One of the most convenient ways to get your heart pumping is to take your little one along for the ride. As long as your child's head and neck are properly supported (check with your pediatrician on this), you can start walking with them as soon as you feel up to it.

If your child is between the ages of 6 months and about 3 to 4 years old, a jogging stroller can be a great way to spend time together and stay fit. There are many strollers on the market that are designed specifically for running. Some favorite new parent brands include BOB and Thule.

Many running strollers have a weight limit of at least 50 pounds, so as long as you're up for the challenge, it can be an option well into the preschool years. The combination of a baby or toddler and a stroller can be heavy, so don't be surprised if your pace slows. And try experimenting with different ways of holding the handlebar: two handed, one handed or the push and catch up technique.

Finally, pack plenty of snacks and toys to entertain your little one. If you find they get fussy in the stroller, you can try running a few miles to a local park or beach, taking a play break and then finishing up the run.

MORE: Stroller Running Tips You Probably Haven't Heard

The Exercise Swap

If you have other parent friends who like to workout, consider swapping childcare. You can meet at a local park or track, and while one of you runs, cycles, walks or does weight exercises, the other person stays behind and entertains the kids. After a predetermined amount of time, you switch. The kids have play date time, and you get in a workout. Win-win, right? You can also try this technique with your significant other.

Make the Most of Multi-tasking

If you have an older child who has sports practice, consider using that time to log some laps around the field. Wear comfortable shoes and jog or power walk while your child practices. If you're indoors, consider stairwell sprints or simple body weight exercises like lunges, squats and push-ups. Every little bit counts!

Run Commutes

If your workplace is between about 2 to 10 miles away or is accessible by public transportation, a run or bike commute might be a great way to avoid traffic while also fitting in some exercise. Commuting by foot or by two wheels can take some pre-planning (where will you shower and how will you carry your gear?), but if you can work through the logistics, it can be a great time-saver.

MORE: 7 Things to Keep in Mind Before Your First Run Commute

Early Mornings and Late Nights

If you're past the sleepless and unpredictable newborn phase, waking up very early (or hitting the weights or treadmill after the kids go to bed) can be a way to exercise without taking time away from the family. Finding a buddy that can work out before sunrise or planning a special post-workout treat can be a good way to stay motivated when you're tired.

Exercising might look a little different when you have kids at home, but it's still possible. A family walk, an impromptu dance party—it all counts when it comes to staying healthy and setting a good example!

READ THIS NEXT: The Best At-Home Strength Exercises for Busy Parents

About the Author

Megan Harrington

Megan is a writer and RRCA certified running coach who lives and trains in rural upstate New York. She ran track and cross-country competitively in high school and college and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance. When she's not running, Megan enjoys coaching fellow runners (www.runnerskitchen.com), snow-shoeing, hiking and digging around in her garden.
Megan is a writer and RRCA certified running coach who lives and trains in rural upstate New York. She ran track and cross-country competitively in high school and college and now focuses on the half-marathon and marathon distance. When she's not running, Megan enjoys coaching fellow runners (www.runnerskitchen.com), snow-shoeing, hiking and digging around in her garden.

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