7 Ways for Parents to Sneak in a Workout


Being a parent is a busy job with few vacation days, limited lunch breaks, and absolutely no sick days! It’s easy to understand why finding time to work out is often a challenge for parents. Self-care is important though, and can actually give you the energy you need to get everything checked off your To Do list each day.

To help you out, we’ve compiled our favorite tips for sneaking in a workout while you’re on parenting duty.

Tip #1: Always Be Prepared

Keep a bag packed, just in case. Your bag should include headphones, water, a towel, wipes (for after), a little spritzer, and athletic clothes. At the very least, throw a pair of athletic shoes in your car so you’ll always be able to get up and go!


Now that you’ve got your bag packed and shoes at the ready, you’ll never have an excuse to sit on the sidelines. That’s right. Kid’s soccer practice? Walk instead of sit in the chair. Drop-off birthday party? Hit the pavement and steer clear of the goodies! Beyond sneaking in walks while you’re waiting, find opportunities to purposefully walk: to the bus stop, to school, anywhere you’re going. Park at the back of the grocery store parking lot, and in Target, go down every aisle instead of bee-lining for what you need (assuming you can handle the extra temptations)! Any time you can, add some steps to your day—they add up!

Tip #3: Break It Up

Speaking of small steps adding up, keep in mind that exercise doesn’t have to happen for thirty minutes a day, 3 days a week, to count. Every minute your heart rate is elevated (even slightly) or your muscles are taxed, it counts! So don’t stop looking for opportunities to get in longer bouts of exercise, but make use of the little opportunities you might be missing. Find short workout routines or create your own, and whenever you find you have 5 or 10 free minutes, get to it! Try these 10-minute workouts to start.

Tip #4: Multi-Task

You know you brag about it—how much you can get done simultaneously! Now, put that to work. Along the same lines as Tip #3, you don’t have to wait for the perfect time or place to exercise, just sneak it in with your everyday activities. At the grocery store, try carrying two shopping baskets instead of pushing the cart (much easier when you’re alone). Standing in line at the store, try curling the shopping baskets (or your baby!), doing a few calf raises, or squats. On hold? How ‘bout walking lunges through the house (put the toddler on your back for added fun)? During bath-time monitoring, get on the floor and hold a plank!

Tip #5: Do Chores Like a BOSS!

That’s right; step up the housecleaning game and turn these must-dos into workouts. Set a timer and see how quickly you can get your daily chores completed. If you’re moving faster from room to room, you’re sure to burn some extra calories. Need to go up and down the stairs to put away laundry? Why not take several trips instead of trying to do it all at once? While unloading the dishwasher, add a few countertop push-ups in between.

Tip #6: Play!

Why not enjoy some of the activities your kids are doing? Take a trip to the playground and get in on the action. Here’s a fun playground workout if your kids are old enough to play by themselves, or ways to sneak in some playground fun with little ones in tow. Have dance parties in your kitchen while cooking dinner. Or even better, turn your workout into your kiddos’ fun time: Set up an obstacle course and turn your sweat sesh into a family affair.

Tip 7: Find Time

Perhaps it’s time to simply renegotiate. Every stage of your child’s life comes with a new set of rules, expectations, and time constraints. The best advice of all might be sitting down with a calendar and finding where workouts can fit in these days and then scheduling them. Do you need to wake up earlier? Stay up later? Do short workouts during morning and afternoon naps? Do you need to trade with your spouse or a friend to get to the gym? You may just need a little time management adjustment to find time for the activities you enjoy!

Bottom line, prioritizing your self-care is extremely important for the health and well being of your entire family. Giving yourself the gift of daily activity provides a wellspring of energy, which helps you stay grounded and present for your kiddos. Not to mention, the good example you are setting will help your little ones grow up knowing that taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury, but a necessity. That might just be the best gift you could ever give them!

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Shannon Fable, 2013 IDEA and 2006 ACE Instructor of the Year, is the VP of Fitness Programming for the FIT4MOM® franchise. For more than two decades, she has helped impressive brands such as Anytime Fitness, Schwinn®, Power Systems, ACE, Silver Sneakers, and BOSU® as a fitness business and programming consultant. An experienced educator, freelance writer, and certified Book Yourself Solid® Business Coach, she helps fitness entrepreneurs navigate the industry and make more money. Fable serves as Vice Chair of the ACE Board of Directors and is the founder and co-owner of GroupEx PRO®, a cloud-based group fitness management tool.