Good to Go: How parents can squeeze exercise into busy schedules

Katie Howard,

WASHINGTON – It may sound alarming, but parents can sneak exercise into packed schedules.

While free time for parents is often hard to come by, getting a little exercise is better than doing nothing at all. A quick workout leaves mom and dad feeling a little more refreshed and relaxed — and it sets a good example for the kids.

As a former personal trainer and mother of two, I know many parents are managing hectic schedules that include work, school, sports and extracurricular lessons.

With the school year coming to a close, summertime vacations and pool days are on the horizon. And bathing suit season is a sure reminder of the importance of exercise.

Here are some tips I used to offer clients and parents looking to add some activity into their busy routines:

Be prepared for an impromptu workout.

Keep a bag of exercise clothes, running shoes and even a pair or weights (secured, of course, to prevent rolling around while driving) in the car. Take advantage of that little period of downtime after work or before picking up the kids. Then hit the streets for a little cardio like running or walking and weightlifting.

Take a lap.

Instead of waiting in the car or along the sidelines of your child’s practice or lesson, why not jog the fields and grounds surrounding the activity? This is a great way to watch your kids play while keeping your heart rate elevated.

Playgrounds are not just for kids.

If your child’s activity is close to a park or playground, which is often the case, then a monkey bar workout on the jungle gym makes for a great upper body regimen. The kids make it look easy when they swing from bar to bar, but trust me, it’s not.

Plan and coordinate your workouts.

Research the venue location where your child’s activity takes place ahead of time. Maybe while your little dancer is practicing ballet, you can take a kickboxing class at the martial arts studio next door.

Organize with the other parents.

Establishing a carpool for transportation to-and-from activities always makes for a good idea with fellow parents. Not only does it save your sanity, but it also gives you a day off, which you can use to exercise. Also consider splitting the cost of a personal trainer with other parents. A personal trainer might even be able to meet your group of parents at the nearby field where your kids practice so you can sneak in a bootcamp exercise class.

Pass on the cake and pizza.

Most birthday parties are about two hours in length. If your child is old enough to be dropped off at a party, take advantage of the time and factor in a workout then. Plus, missing the party means you won’t be tempted with typical party junk food.

Invest in equipment.

A baby jogger or attachable bike stroller is a great investment for any parent’s exercise program. Consider ditching the car to get to practice and strap younger children into the stroller and run/bike with your older children to their activity. As long as you keep the distance in mind, most kids will benefit from a little extra warm-up and cool down run/bike ride before and after their activities.

A TRX or Jungle Gym are both pieces of equipment that don’t take up too much room and are portable gyms that pack a cardio, core and upper body infused punch.

So as you switch out the calendar from month to month to jot down your household’s impending itinerary, keep yourself in mind and block off some “ME” time.

Editor’s Note: WTOP’s Katie Howard is a mom on the go. With two children under age 5, she’s always looking for ways to provide her family fast and healthy snacks, meals and activities. Katie shares her go-to food and family fitness tips on her blog “Good to Go.”

Follow @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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