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Easy ways for moms to fit in exercise

Cynthia Steele is a runner, triathlete, and working mom of three young children. With a challenging but rewarding job in performing arts management, her work hours are often long and involve weekends, evenings, and travel, and she is con...

Make it work for you!

Moms don't always have time to exercise the conventional way. These tips help you fit in a workout while still getting everything done.

Mother stretching with baby

Make it work for you!

Moms don't always have time to exercise the conventional way. These tips help you fit in a workout while still getting everything done.

As a mom with three little kids, a busy job and a long commute, finding time to exercise is a challenge for me. But I'm committed to working out, getting fit and consistently training for races, so I have to find ways to fit workouts into my super-packed schedule to achieve my goals.

Fitting in exercise 4-6 days a week requires creativity, and I've discovered a few interesting cheats to sneak exercise into my packed days.

Run your errands

I've been running with a stroller for seven years with three different kids, and along the way, I've discovered creative ways to get in a workout that wouldn't exist otherwise. For example, it often happens that my weekend days are so busy that I don't have time to exercise. Daylight begins to run out, and we need groceries for dinner. The solution? I strap the toddler into the stroller and hand him a cup of milk and some snacks, and off we go, running to the grocery store. We don't live in the perfect area for walking to shops, and I don't know anyone here who walks for their groceries, but the stroller makes it work. We run the 1.5 miles to the store, load up the stroller, run home — and voila! A 5k run is complete, with upper-body and core workout along the way. I've even stopped at the wine store and the coffee shop on the way back, although that results in a hard-to-turn stroller, given all the extra items loading it down!

Meet the family at the field

Another trick I've employed is meeting my family at my daughter's soccer games. Assuming I don't need to be sparkling clean and smelling fresh, I can run wherever we are going locally — this makes it ideal for meeting the family at a soccer game. I head out on foot, and my husband meets me at the field with the kids. For a double workout, I run home, too!

Drop me off before we get home

Occasionally, I have a carpool partner — either my husband or my dad — for my commute home from work. I have discovered another easy "cheat" that doesn't take time away from my kids. On my way out of the office, I pop into the restroom and put on my running clothes. I figure out a place where I can be dropped off a few miles from home, and I hop out of the car there. Given the traffic in our area, I don't get home much later than I would have in the car, and I feel amazing and refreshed after a long day at work. You can also do this on the way home from anywhere if there is another driver in the car, so find a place that is a reasonable distance from your home and go for it!

Lunch-break core crunch

At noon, I can usually be found eating at my desk, my nose immersed in paperwork or glued to my computer screen. However, breaking free from this rut one or two days a week can do wonders for my body and my mind. I've been using these breaks to fit in core workouts — a Pilates class, a barre class or even a few crunches and squats on my own if I can find a small space. If none of these things work out, a brisk walk can really energize me for the rest of the day.

A bike, a lock and a backpack

My bike has added a new source of flexibility to fitting in exercise. With a bike lock and a backpack, I can get in a workout and return the kids' books to the library at the same time. I've never done my family's grocery shopping by bicycle, but I have picked up a prescription and some shampoo and have then biked home. In fact, even getting to work by bike is possible with a little planning. Parking at a location from which I could pedal downtown to work gave me the chance to log some serious training mileage toward my first triathlon this summer.

With a little creativity, increasing your activity level is possible even if you have a busy life. We can call these "cheats," but they're more like indulgences — with your health and fitness being the splurge!

Guest post by Cynthia Steele of You Signed Up For What?! >>

More on fitness for moms

Coming back after babies
How to keep your kids moving
Taking a break from technology

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