How to find time for exercise in your working and parenting schedule

by Liz Marchant

Exercising is an important part of staying healthy but when you have work, children, friends, and other commitments to consider, it can be a challenge to find time for it.

This challenge can be exacerbated by the fact that many of us consider exercise to be an indulgence. We call it ‘me-time’, which makes us feel as though we’re being selfish when we make time in our schedules for exercise. However, it’s important to remember that exercise is essential to remaining healthy as well as happy. Without exercise, your health could suffer and that could affect your ability to be the parent, colleague, employee, friend, and family member you want to be.

So, the first step is to accept that you’re not selfish for wanting to make time for exercise. Give yourself permission to treat exercise as just as important as any other commitment in your schedule.

Next, ask yourself what you want to achieve through exercise. What do you want to improve or work on?

This part is personal and specific to you. It might include building muscle or strength. Or it might be to increase your stamina and endurance, or simply just to stay fit and healthy.

Answering this question honestly will help to determine what kind of exercise will meet your goal, and how much time each session will involve.

Here are some options to consider:

Going for a walk or run

If your answer is that you just want to do enough to keep yourself fit and in shape, or you just want a way to destress, then perhaps going for a walk or run may be the best option. The good thing about this type of exercise is that it’s flexible; you can wake up early and do it in the morning before work, you could do it at lunchtime, or you can do it after work.

You may also like to invite your kids or a friend to come along, which can make the activity more enjoyable and help you feel like you’re being a good parent or friend while you do something important for yourself. However, if you’re the kind of person who prefers to exercise alone, then you should feel comfortable to honour that. This could mean asking your partner to look after the kids while you step outside.

HIIT sessions

If you don’t have much time to give but you want to see fast results, consider a program like HIIT (high-intensity interval training). HIIT is typically a mix of cardio and strength training done in intervals, with little downtime between exercises. It’s designed for people to maximise their exercise time, with sessions as short as 10 minutes, and yet still see results such as: weight loss; a boosted metabolism; and increased strength and muscle tone (results will vary depending on how many sessions you do per week).

HIIT sessions are offered by many gyms but the great thing about it is that you can build your own session at home or engage the help of a personal trainer. There are many sessions you can follow when doing it yourself, such as YouTube channels like The Body Coach TV, POPSUGAR Fitness, and others featured in Women’s Health Magazine, or various circuits on Pinterest.

Classes and exercising at the gym

Going to the gym offers you a chance to use a variety of exercise equipment and machines designed to target different parts of the body. When choosing a gym, consider: what equipment they offer; if there are classes; how close it is to work or home; how expensive a membership is and if it all aligns with what you want to achieve.

Many gyms run various classes throughout the week, like cardio sessions, strength training, weight training, yoga, Pilates, and so many more depending on the gym and its trainers. Attending a class gives you a chance to focus on you, or, more specifically, focus on doing the exercises that will lead to achieving your goal. Classes can also give you a chance to socialise and meet new people who can motivate you to continue your exercise journey.

Working out at home

For some women, the gym might not be an option. Working out at home can be a good alternative because: it gives you the freedom to try new exercises without feeling judged; you can save money by not having to pay any gym fees; you can fit exercising into your schedule much more easily; and it’s more convenient.

Having a designated room and a yoga mat is a good place to start. Pilates and yoga are popular choices for women who are tentative about using weights. Take a look at Lottie Murphy’s YouTube channel for achievable Pilates routines, or Yoga With Adrienne for easy flow routines.  If you aren’t too sure about what other exercises to do or how, Pinterest and YouTube will provide many ideas.

Following exercise regimes and apps

Whether you’re at the gym or home, following an exercise regime or app can provide you with planned sessions, suggested meals to coincide with workouts, and motivation tips.

Staying motivated can be difficult, particularly when the last thing you feel like doing at the end of a full-on day is go to the gym. Having someone or support from an online community to help you stay focused on these days can make all the difference in reaching your goal.

The Emily Skye FIT: Workout App is a popular choice, as it provides women with various programs and meal plans based on expert opinions, and it also features a 24/7 support chat, motivating podcasts, and mediating tips. Outside the app, there is also a Facebook community where members share results, ask questions and seek support from fellow members.

Another popular app is SWEAT: Kayla Itsines Fitness. This apps provides various circuits for HIIT, strength, and power training, with a large community of women from all around the world. It also has four female personal trainers who host programs such as: bikini body guide (BBG); post-pregnancy; power-building; weight-training; and yoga. There is also a fitness tracker and meal plans in the app.

Exercising is a personal journey for many, and we are all motivated by different reasons. If you want to incorporate exercise into your life, it’s just a matter of finding the way that meets your goals and works for you and your schedule.