7 Tips to Help Busy Parents Schedule Exercise

Exercising every day can be difficult to get in.  The World Health Organization tells us that we need a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise per week for health.  Even more exercise per week can ward off some diseases, such as cancer, liver disease and diabetes.  But, in our busy lives, working and taking care of our families, how are we to find the time to do this?  Well, it may be easier than you think.  Making exercise a priority in our lives and finding creative ways to schedule it in is very possible.  Here are just 7 tips for getting it done. 

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(title photo credit: Erika Wade Photography)

 1. Include the Kiddos

I was out in our neighborhood for my usual run.  I saw a young boy, about 4 or 5 years old.  He was riding his bike and politely said hello to me.  After returning the salutation, I continued my run to then pass his mother.  She was dressed in workout clothes and running just behind him.  As she ran past me, she explained, “This is how I keep up with him”.  Well, no need to explain, I thought.  “That’s awesome” I said out loud.  She was multi-tasking.  She was spending time with her son while getting in a workout of her own. Fantastic.  For the remainder of my run, I thought about this.  She inspired this blog post. 

Yes, include the kids on workouts.  It is a fantastic way to promote healthy habits to our families.  Going for a long walk or a nature hike can be a fantastic way to spend an hour or two together.  There are so many other things to do with our kids that they would thoroughly enjoy.  Children want to spend time with their parents. So, grab that soccer ball, frisbee or baseball set and get out there.  Go to the pool for a swim.  It’s all exercise and healthy. 

Being active with our children is a fantastic way to teach them to follow a healthy lifestyle. (photo credit: Jacqui Hill)

2. Early in the Morning

If you need to get in your own, more intense workout, perhaps you need to consider getting up early.  Get your workout done while your family is still asleep.  This is a perfect time to focus on you, before the day gets crazy. 

I find running can be a great way to wake up and sort out my thoughts.  I was never a morning person, until I started running.  It allows me to beat the heat of the summer, as it is cooler in the mornings on those hot days.  I’ve ran as early as 4:00am before catching a flight while travelling.  It wakes me up and puts my day in a positive forward motion.  I never thought I would ever say this, and let’s just keep this between us, but running is better than caffeine for kickstarting my day. 

I get all my gear ready the night before.  When the alarm goes off, when I am half asleep still, I just crawl out of bed and get dressed.  A little splash of water on my face and away I go.  The nice thing is I don’t have to fuss with my hair or makeup first thing.  I am just going to sweat it all off. No one will be looking that closely at me anyways. I just go out the door.  I will have my coffee and breakfast afterwards.  The promise of food gives me a little incentive to get it done.  I work for that cup of java! 

Go for a walk or run early before your family wakes up.

3. During those Extracurricular Activities

My daughters were in tae kwon do, gymnastics, dance and swim classes.  My husband and I were always rushing here or there with them.  I even put a “Mom’s Taxi” sign up as my Facebook profile picture during these days as a joke.  But I wasn’t really joking.  I was so tempted put a sign on my car too.  So, I get it.  All this takes up your time.  It takes up a lot of time. 

But, one day, as my husband and I were sitting there watching our children, drinking our coffees and chatting, it dawned on us.  Why are we not doing this too?  Why not use this time to workout ourselves?  What better way to instill health and fitness in our children then by practicing it ourselves?  So, my husband joined my daughter’s tae kwon do classes.  I started a tae bo class at the same dojo.  When the girls were swimming, we were walking, talking and drinking our coffees, instead of sitting.  I have friends who run while their kids are in activities. 

Doing activities together is fun, builds bonds and forms lasting memories.

Not only does this get us out exercising, but it also re-enforces the idea in our kid’s minds.  If mommy and daddy are exercising, then it must be good.  It is the perfect opportunity to instill healthy habits in them.  What is good for them, is good for us, and is good for everyone.  In fact, children of parents who are active and fit, tend to be active and fit themselves.  It isn’t just genetics.  It is setting a good example and getting it done. 

4. Instead of Coffee with Friends

We parents need and crave adult conversation.  This is especially true for those at home with kids for extended periods of time.  I love going for coffee and chatting with my friends.  They are important to me.  It is good for the mind and soul. 

But who said we must sit to do this?  Walking or running with friends is a fantastic way to catch up on each other’s lives.  So, grab that coffee or tea and go for a walk out in the fresh air with your bestie.  Or, better yet, grab a bottle of water and plan that run with your buddy. 

Don’t have any friends who are into fitness?  Find some new friends by joining a walking, hiking or running club.  There are clubs like this in most cities. And, if you start, your current friends may even join you eventually.  Be an influencer; a trendsetter.  It is healthy for everyone. 

Be active with friends.

5. Lunch Break or Nap Time

An hour or more in the gym isn’t necessary to be healthy.  A 10-minute run or walk every day adds up to 70 minutes of exercise in a week.  That is almost half of the 150-minute weekly goal.  So, once baby is down for a nap, strap on that baby monitor receiver, put on running shoes and get out there.  Run or walk up and down your block for just 10 to 15 minutes.  Get some fresh air while staying close to home. It will perk you up and clear your mind.

Alternatively, you could get a treadmill or stair climber.  Download a yoga app or do some body weight exercises.  Exercise can happen in our very own living rooms.  Find a way to get it in.  Just 20 minutes every day will get the weekly quota in.  If you have more time, do more. 

If you work outside of your home, go for a walk on your lunch break.  Pack your gear, a water bottle and lunch box the night before.  Walk for half of your lunch break, then eat your lunch during the other half.  I’ll bet that your coworkers will join in after a couple of weeks.  Keep going!  Be that influencer. 

6. Take the Kid’s Along

Just can’t get away from the kiddos?  Take them with you. 

After our girls were able to swim well on their own, we would take them to the gym to swim while we ran or worked out.  They loved it and we got our workouts in.  There were lifeguards at the pool, so we knew they were safe.  The track and one of the weight rooms were just above the pool, so we could see them swim while we worked out.  It was great.  Eventually, one of my daughters even joined us upstairs to run on the track.  She is still running today, several years later. 

You can use a stroller to walk or run.  There are jogging strollers available that make running with young ones easier.  In fact, some running races have chariot categories that let you enter the race with your children in the stroller.  Training for races while pushing a loaded stroller makes you stronger and faster.  In fact, Cynthia Arnold ran a marathon in just over 3 hours with her three children in a triple stroller in July 2019.  She broke the world record for a three-person stroller marathon. 

Mother’s walking with their babies.

You don’t have to run fast or break world records.  Just get out there and exercise. 

Baby Trend Expedition Jogger Stroller

There are also gyms with daycare.  They will look after your children while you get your workout in.  These gyms understand the struggles of parenthood.  Call your local facilities to find out if they offer this service. 

7. Schedule You-Time

As a busy parent, it is possible to workout.  But we have to make it a priority.  Our health should be a priority.  We need and deserve this time. 

Schedule this time.  Actually put it in your calendar.  Set up reminders.  Tell your family that this is your precious time.  Children will learn to respect that if you insist on it. 

If you can’t take your kids with you or schedule a time when you don’t have them, enlist the help of a friend or family member to look after them.  Hire a babysitter.  It is worth the investment. 

Run Training Plan
Schedule exercise in your planner.

Stay healthy for your family

Ultimately staying healthy isn’t just for you.  It is for your family too.  You can’t do your job as a parent if you are unhealthy and sick.  Trust me, I know this all too well.  I felt I was a burden on my family when I was going through my cancer treatments.  For eight long months I was unable to routinely feed them or clean my house properly.  My girls had to grow up to become self-reliant a lot faster than I wanted.  My husband had to work even harder to fill in the gaps when I just couldn’t function.  I felt guilty for a long time because of this. 

Do everything in your power to regain and maintain your health.  This includes making the time to exercise.  

If you are looking for some inspiration, check out our Inspiration Archives here at Pink Ribbon Runner.


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  1. Most of these aren’t an option for me right now, but including the kids I can do. Lol. We dance around the house together, go on walks, doing squats as I clean up the toys… 🤣😉

  2. These are great tips but were very difficult for me in the toddler years. My kids never wanted to cooperate. I would get up earlier… and so would they. I tried to take them to child care at the gym; they cried the whole time. On walks, one would want to get out of the stroller and run. Luckily that was only a phase, and now when I don’t get my workout in, it is my own fault. Lol.

  3. These are great tips! We took our daughter to the ice-skating club every Sunday for years and eventually decided to join in too. We learned the basics and then the club asked us to join in with the teaching – so we’re now ice skating tutors! (never thought we’d be doing that!)

  4. These are great tips! Me and my husband struggle with this because with him working Active duty and me just trying to stay alive through the day(LOL) while managing a blog, business, babies, and virtual learning, sometimes you just don’t want to do anything else. But We’ll def be trying to put in more time to get out there with the kids.

  5. These are great tips! I’m pretty sure I have used all of them over the years. Even if you only 10 minutes you can fit it any type of exercise. I also think it’s important for kids to see parents exercise. So often we register them for sports but we are not active ourselves.

  6. This is a great article and reminder for us parents. I was just talking to my husband today about how we could work on our lifestyle choices in terms of being healthier

  7. Thanks for sharing these great tips. I love the idea of going for walks with friends instead of going out to eating or grabbing coffee. That’s a great way to take care of both the social and health aspects of self-care.

    1. Good job on walking while your daughter was at soccer. I am sure you felt good after walking. I love walking to clear my head after a busy day.

    1. I am so glad you found this helpful. Being active is so important for our health. Don’t forget to focus on you!

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