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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