Making Time to Exercise with Little Ones

I seem to be running exactly one day behind this week. This was supposed to be yesterday’s “healthy living” post. 

Modern conveniences have ushered in an era where sedentary lives are possible for the “common woman”. We no longer have to draw water from a well, grow all our own food, wash and ring our clothes by hand or walk wherever we need to go.

Cars, water faucets, refrigerators and washing machines make our lives easier. Unfortunately, they’ve also made exercise something we have to actively choose instead of just having it be part of life.

And, well, sometimes exercise feels like intentionally inflicting torture on yourself! As an unknown author put it, “Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it, I wash my mouth out with chocolate.”

For years, I’ve chosen chocolate far more often than exercise.

photo credit 

The benefits of exercise have been pounded into us since we were little: Exercise helps prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and other “diseases of affluence.” Exercise increases stamina. Exercise curbs weight gain.

However, when you’re young, feel healthy and don’t have difficulty with weight gain, exercise may not seem worth the trouble. For years I’ve exercised for a day or two and then quit for months.

After numerous failed attempts at exercising regularly, I realized…

  • The benefits must seem worth the effort. I’m not trying to lose weight. There are no immediate outward signs I’m looking for (though being more fit is nice.) However, I feel better, sleep better, and (though every other muscle may be screaming at me) my heart thanks me! I want to be healthy not only today, but also when my grandchildren grow up.
  • I need to plan for the long-term. I have to view exercise as something I plan to do for the rest of my life. Otherwise, sickness or travel breaks my resolve.
  • The time commitment must be reasonable. I have three little children. An hour workout is simply not going to happen. However, they play happily for 30 minutes. Or, we can exercise together.
  • Accountability is important.
  • Keep exercise in perspective. “Bodily training is of some value” but “godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8) No amount of exercise will prolong our lives past the day God appointed.

If you have small children, finding time to exercise can be difficult, but it’s certainly possible!

Find a workout routine that fits in your schedule

  • I use Jillian Michael”s “30 Day Shred.” The workouts are intense, but only 25 minutes from start to finish. I can squeeze 25 minutes into my morning! (Like most workout videos, the outfits aren’t modest. I exercise while the children are occupied and not watching the video. Also, she uses a few words I don’t want my kids repeating, so I generally keep the sound very quiet. Once you’ve done a workout 23 times, you really hardly need a DVD.)

Exercise together

  • Play games like “Red Light, Green Light” or “Mother May I?” together.
  • Go on a long walk together (pushing a stroller can be exhausting!)
  • “Fly” the kids in the air.
  • Turn on some lively music and dance together.
  • Swim, ride horses or play a sport together.

Make exercise a regular part of your life

  • If you “need to get out of the house” take a walk to the park or explore the woods with your kids.
  • When shopping, don’t spend five minutes trying to find a good parking spot. Just park the car and walk! You can usually find empty spots near a cart holder if it’s not right next to the entrance.
  • Do squats, balance training, or Kegel exercises while cooking or doing laundry.
  • Most homemaking jobs in modern American require little exercise. Choose to do some things the old-fashioned way, whether it’s gardening, hanging out laundry or kneading your own bread.

My goal is to do the workout routine three times a week and exercise with the kids (usually either a long walk together or working in the garden) three days. Though my weeks rarely go entirely according to plan, fitting at least some exercise into my week has made a big difference.

What about you? How do you find time to exercise? (or do you?)

Linked up at Works for MeFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysHealthy 2DayProverbs 31Natural Living Link Up &  Simple Lives

 (Full Disclosure: links to products in this post are my referral links.)

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  1. says

    I love to exercise and ‘workout’! Lately, my exercise consists of a twenty minute walk, which includes several hills, and hauling buckets of manure and lifting them over the fence. When I’m not ‘working out’ outside, I workout with weights a couple times weekly. I don’t know how you young mommies do it all! I think I’m in better shape now than I was in my twenties and hope to keep ‘producing fruit’ (physically and spiritually, but not children!) into old age! You and your family are such a blessing! I love reading your posts! Blessings from Bama!

    • anna says

      Awww, thanks for your encouragement! There are plenty of things I don’t do and many days when I don’t fit exercise in! But when 25 minutes of exercise help me be more productive the rest of the day, it’s worth it!

  2. says

    There are some days I wish I could get in twenty minutes of exercise (like yesterday when I was sitting at the polls all day as an Election Judge) while other days I don’t want to do anything. 😛 I usually get a 30 minute walk in at last every other day, but now that it’s getting warmer, I’m not sure how long it will last. 🙂 I do get exercise when babysitting the kiddos. 🙂 Thanks for the post.

    • anna says

      Yes, I’ve had plenty of those days too. 20 minutes is way too much to spare sometimes, but when I can it sure is worth it!

  3. says

    Great post with great ideas! I have noticed that I am much happier when I exercise and so are my kids. My kids LOVE doing anything athletic or that basically gets them running around and tired. For us, keeping our kids active is a good thing and one that we encourage, too.

    • anna says

      That’s great Kathy! I’ve found the same thing. Not only am I happier with exercise, so are my children (especially if it includes playing in the sun!)

  4. says

    Great tips! We had our second son 11 days ago so it’s still going to be a little while before I get back into doing any sort of ‘regular’ exercising everyday. In the spring, summer, & fall when the weather is great I love to take walks with my husband and let our little man play outside. My biggest struggle is the winter when it’s cold and going outside isn’t a good option. Those wintery days I try to do more inside activities like baking. 🙂

    • anna says

      Congratulations Tabitha! Rest and enjoying that little one are the only “orders” I really heeded for weeks. 😉

      How fun! I love going on family walks.

  5. says

    Exercise? What is this “exercise” you speak of? Just kidding…although this winter hasn’t been good for forming good work out habits for me. I’m thankful for spring and summer approaching as going on walks has been so invigorating!

    You are so good to challenge me with all your thoughtful posts–keep it up 🙂

    • anna says

      Haha! I definitely have my bad days (or weeks!) still, but making it a bit more of a priority has helped me feel SO much better!

      And yay for good walking weather!

  6. says

    I don’t really have an exercise routine right now, but rather figure that the lifting and chasing of mischievous boys as well as gardening has given me enough of a workout for now. That said, I really miss taking long walks. When I lived overseas as a teacher, I would walk to work every day (took about 15 minutes each way) and despite the fact that I ate whatever I wanted, I always lost 10 lbs every 2 years between furloughs. It’s amazing how that little bit of exercise can add up over time, and it was a great time to clear my mind and heart.

    • anna says

      Keeping up with three active *boys* sounds like more work than Jillian Michaels. 😉

      My dad grew up in a small country where most people didn’t need cars until the last decade or so. They walked to school, work, the grocery store, library… everywhere. Even though they had tea and cookies all the time, I don’t remember seeing a single overweight person. They walked off all the calories!

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