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How to Find Time to Exercise When There Is No Time

With all the chores and responsibilities on parents’ plates, it’s hard to find time to workout—but not impossible. Here, top tips on how to carve out space for fitness.
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profile picture of Jenna McCarthy
Updated
June 1, 2022
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Parents juggle a lot. Between caring for baby, running a household, nurturing relationships and maybe working a job too, it can feel impossible to find any time to shower or even eat—let alone work out. But the benefits of exercise are plenty, and squeezing in a sweat session may not be as hard as you think. While you probably won’t be able to run off to the gym for an evening like you did in the pre-baby days, there are tons of creative ways to get active. Here, we went straight to real-life, hard-working and active parents for their secrets on how they find time to workout.

Make It Short But Effective

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a whole hour to exercise. In fact, speed is the name of the game when it comes to fitting in a workout with baby at home. Plus, short bursts of activity throughout the day have been proven to be as good as one longer session. According to one study, exercising for as little as 10 minutes three times a week—with each workout including only three minutes of high-intensity training—was found to improve physical health and endurance. Another study similarly found that short bursts of high-intensity and sprint training were as effective in improving cardiometabolic health as traditional endurance training.

To implement these short workouts into your routine, take advantage of baby’s naps, your lunch break and those hours when your partner is with baby. (A power walk on the way home from work or the grocery store counts too!) “I would do squats and lunges holding the baby or squeeze in 10-minute yoga sessions I’d find on YouTube whenever I could,” Amanda W. says.

Use Your Gear

You forked over a small fortune for all of that baby gear—the good news is it can double as workout gear! Wear baby in a carrier while you take a long walk, do lunges or squats. Or, use a jogging stroller to take baby with you during workouts. “I strapped baby into his little chair and did crunches in front of him,” says Holly J. “He thought it was a game of peekaboo.”

Incorporate Baby Into Workouts

While you can always use your gear to bring baby with you when exercising, there are also ways to include baby directly into your workouts. Have baby lie below you as you practice deadbug on all fours; put baby on your belly during glute bridges; hold baby close while squatting; or do supermans while baby practices tummy time. You can even place baby on a blanket next to you with toys to keep them occupied while you exercise. Just be mindful of baby and keep an eye on them during reps!

Sign Up for a Class

Classes can be a great way to hold yourself accountable. Plus, you’re likely going to be more motivated to exercise when you’ve paid your hard-earned money for the chance to do it. If you’re all about class action, there’s a bottomless list of options to choose from—yoga, Pilates, barre, Zumba, you name it. Some in-person classes even offer free child care, while others, like postnatal yoga and stroller fitness, incorporate baby into the class. To best plan out your workout, it’s best to call the center ahead of time to understand their childcare policies.

Try a Virtual Workout

While some people opt to go to a gym or attend a group fitness class, the reality is that you can easily exercise from the comfort of your own home, thanks to all the podcasts, apps, YouTube videos and on-demand workouts available these days. Many of these virtual options even have various workout lengths to accommodate your busy schedule. “I chose Jillian Michaels’s workouts because they were only 30 minutes long,” Amanda W. says. (Looking for virtual classes to try? Check out obé fitness and Aaptiv.

Become a Morning Person

Thanks to baby’s sleeping and feeding schedule, you’re probably awake much earlier these days. It’s tempting to drift back to bed after that early feeding, but use this time to sneak in a quick workout instead. (Sleeping in your workout clothes can help get you motivated!) “The only way I could get in a workout when I had a newborn was to do it before the sun was even up,” Tabitha K. says. “I’d walk or jog at 5 a.m. before my husband left for work.”

Plus, a morning workout lets you knock it off the list before your day has even started, leaving the rest of the day open for work, errands or whatever else you need to get done. “I found a gym that opened at 4 a.m., so I could work out before heading to my full-time job,” Colleen M. says. Of course, it’s important to balance exercise with sleep. Some days will call for crawling back into bed for an extra hour of shuteye, and that’s okay too.

Lean on Your Support System

Whether there’s a workout class you’ve been looking forward to, you just want an hour at the gym or something else, remember to lean on your support system. After all, they’re there to support you! Ask your partner, a loved one, a close friend—anyone you trust—to watch baby for a little while. The alone time is guaranteed to benefit your physical and mental health. Plus, you can always pay the favor forward one day.

Yes, it’s difficult to find time to exercise while caring for baby—but with a little creative thinking, it is possible. And on the days where you can’t find even a minute to spare, remember you’ll have an active kid on your hand for years to come—and running after them counts as exercise too!

Check out The Bump’s Stroller Workout with Baby:

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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