I cannot leave my young kids home alone, what can I do to exercise?

Finding time for yourself with young kids at home is often a challenge, making it hard to stick to an exercise routine. You will find you have more energy to be a better parent if you keep yourself physically fit and healthy.

Here are some ideas that may help:

  • Involve your toddler in the activity - make the exercise into playful fun moves - frog = squats, bear = crawls, bunny = hops, pass a ball back and forth doing a crunch…
  • Fit it in - while your toddler is eating in their highchair do some lunges, squats, pushups off the counter, dips off a chair…
  • Put on some music and dance!
  • Use a stroller and get out and walk or run around the block.
  • Join a gym with a childcare room.
  • Put in an exercise DVD while they are napping or playing.
  • Exercise at night when they are asleep or early in the morning before they are awake.
  • At the park - rather than sitting on the bench watching - YOU get involved!
  • Contact other parents who have children close to your toddler's age and set up a "workout play date."

Remember - you are making yourself a wonderful role model for your child by teaching them the importance of taking care of your body and health!

Although it may be seem like a challenge at first the best way to get your exercise in is to include your kids in your activity. Instead of a formal exercise program you may have to turn your time into something a little more fun and play oriented. 

If you can go outside try games such as tag, shuttle runs, and cross-training with your kids. Hit the part and utilize the equipment at park to do modified push-ups, step-ups, lunges and squats. If your children are infants or toddlers you can walk or jog with them in a stroller. If they are older have them ride their bike alongside as you jog. 

If you are inside create small space in your house that becomes "mommy's gym". Perhaps it is by the bottom of the stairs. Do step-ups, modified push ups, dips, and squats. Bring your children's toys near the are to keep them occupied while you work out. If they want your attention, include them, or even hold them during the lower body exercises if it is safe for both of you.

Along with you getting your own exercise you are also setting an example for your children. The more they see you exercise and the more they are included they are more likely to stay physically activity as it is a part of their normal lifestyle. 

Look at having young children as a wonderful opportunity to include them in positive life activities but also a great chance to spend quality time with them.
Having kids can make it challenging to get your 'own' workout but it's a great opportunity to spend active time with your kids model good health habits. Find activities that you can do with your kids. For example, kids love to go to the playground and run around. Why not run around with them? :-) Come up with activities that you can do right outside your front door: tag, kickball, basketball, whiffle ball, frisbee or if you have bicycling options what a great way to go! This is a great opportunity for you and kids to spend quality time together and be healthy as a family. 
Tina Whitlock

Your children may be all you need to get in a good workout.  If your children are at the infant to toddler stage a few rounds of upsy daisy can give you a great upper body workout.  Got baby gates?   Step over’s are excellent for working the lower abdominals.  Walking is something you all can do together, and remember if you are pushing a stroller your are burning extra calories and helping to tone those triceps. Let your children motivate you to get up and play and you won’t even realize that you are exercising.

Where do I start?  If you have a pair of comfortable shoes, a floor and about 5 feet of space – then it’s time to get your butt moving!  No need to take one step outside, literally, the world is your gym.  First, get a pedometer and increase your steps to 10,000 – you will be amazed to see how few steps you actually take in a day. And by the way – the more steps you take a day – the better your health and your waistline.  Then create opportunities to take more steps.  Grabbing the laundry?  Only grab a handful at a time – and make more trips to and from the laundry room.  Try doing some squats while the microwave is running, lunges down the hallway as you are moving around the house and push-ups during commercials of your favorite TV shows.   Try to do 2 sets of 4 exercises for 10 repetitions every other day.  Be creative; run around your house 3 times with your kids!  Play kick ball in the yard, play tag, run up the stairs instead of walking, park in the back of the lot at the grocery store – just move and get your kids moving too!  Some say the world is your playground – I think it can be your gym too.

Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

If you have young kids who can't be left home alone while you exercise, consider getting a treadmill. You don't have to spend a lot of money for it; there is a lot of used exercise equipment for sale. Then you can watch your favorite TV show while you work out, or you can record your favorite shows so that you can replay them at a workout time that is more convenient for you. You can also get a small portable DVD player and watch movies or reruns of old TV shows on DVD.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.