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No Time to Exercise? Tips for Busy Parents

January 25, 2021

Having children and a job can make the idea of working out seem impossible. Maybe you immediately picture the dirty dishes stacked next to the sink, the toys strewn across the living room floor or the children who are hungry for dinner. Add to that the never-ending exhaustion that most parents feel. 

But raising a family is a marathon, not a sprint, and making time to take care of your health should be a priority. If you can find windows of opportunity to exercise, it will improve your heart health, lower stress and anxiety, and help prevent hypertension and diabetes.

What’s the goal? You should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics or cardio five days a week, combined with two or more days a week of muscle-strengthening activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Ready to Start? Keep it Simple 

Here are a few tips: 

  • Build a foundation. Start simply and create an exercise schedule. 

  • Be consistent. Repetition is the key to turn working out into a habit.

  • Sneak in the time. Try to exercise early in the morning, late in the evening or while your children are napping or at school. 

  • Find workouts you enjoy, such as cross training, cardio, weight training, yoga, Pilates, group or on-demand fitness programs.

  • Set goals. Reward yourself once they’re achieved. 

  • Work out with a friend. Meeting up for a bike ride might help you both reach your fitness goals, and socializing can boost psychological health, too.

  • Try brisk walking for 30 minutes, five days a week. Chores around the house and mowing the lawn can count as well.

Avoid Doing Too Much, Too Soon

If you’ve spent months watching Netflix and conferencing on Zoom calls instead of working out, you’ll want to start slowly so you don’t injure yourself. Muscle strains, tendonitis and other overuse injuries could sideline you. 

How to avoid injuries:

  • Exercise indoors or during parts of the day when the temperatures are cooler. Heat stroke is a real threat. 

  • Warm up with stretches and light movement. 

  • Wear comfortable clothing and use appropriate equipment. 

  • Take breaks and hydrate during exercise.

  • Pay attention to your diet. Exercise is only one component of fitness.

  • Take a smartphone with you and monitor your heart rate, the American Heart Association suggests. 

Building Movement Into Your Day 

These days, many Americans are staying home more often and using home equipment or streaming fitness services instead of going to the gym. These workouts can be inexpensive and convenient, but opt for fresh air and sunshine when the weather cooperates. 

If you can’t find time for yourself, get the whole family involved. It will help all of you reach your fitness goals and lower the risks of too much screen time, which is contributing to the obesity epidemic. It can be as easy as taking a family walk, going for a bike ride or tackling yard chores together.


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