Healthy Living Small Step #4: Sneak in Exercise

By Rachel Tiemeyer

You know you need it, but how do you actually make exercise part of your busy life? Here are some GREAT and practical ideas to start today. #healthyliving #thrivinghome

Start at the beginning of our 10 Small Steps Toward Healthy Living series HERE.

I doubt I need to convince you that exercise is a mandatory part of good health.

But, if you’re like me, the problem isn’t knowing I need it. The problem of exercising regularly is 3-fold in my life:

  1. Time: Finding the time to fit in exercise as mom of three, working part-time, and running our household?
  2. Cost: The cost of a gym plus childcare fees is prohibitive.
  3. Motivation: Being motivated to actually do it!

So, I want to address some ways I’ve gotten around of those stumbling blocks since having children. Exercising can and should be part of your regular routine (might I even say, daily life?), but you’ve got to think outside the box and take the small step to sneak it in. Here are some unique, cheap ways I’ve learned to sneak in exercise, save on gym fees, and get motivated to make it happen most days.

My Plan

My goal on most days is to accumulate (often breaking up the time throughout the day) the recommended 30-60 minutes a day of aerobic exercise. Then I try to do weight-bearing exercises 2-3x/week for about 20-30 minutes. The key is to have a plan, but then giving yourself grace on those days it just doesn’t pan out.

My Exercise Mantras

I have two mantras that help me accomplish my plan on most days. Seriously, programming myself to think this way has helped a lot with my motivation and ability to fit in a workout on most days.

Mantra #1: Some exercise is better than no exercise.

Mantra #2: Multitask, multitask, multitask.

Sneaky Ways to Incorporate Exercise

Here are a few ways I’ve learned to sneak in exercise into my normal daily grind.

Play like a kid with my kid: My kids and I often play tag, hide-and-seek, basketball, baseball, ride a scooter, or run races outside. Recently, I’ve started taking my 5-year-old on run/walks with me, too. He can keep up for about 15-20 minutes.

Make housework work for me: Rake leaves, clean bathrooms quickly, vacuum, sweep, and mop quickly, moving fast from one task to the next.

Dance parties: We all enjoy this one a lot. While blasting some Itunes in the living room, we pretty much jump around the entire time. My heart is always pumping after each song.

Walk with the kids: I used to pack up the younger ones in the stroller and have my older guy ride his scooter or bike on walks. On rainy or cold days, we even head to the mall. Yes, I’m officially a mall walker now! When my kids were babies, I walked a lot with them in the Baby Bjorn. Carrying extra weight or pushing kids equals extra calories burned! A tip is to bring a fun snack along and some toys or books to pull out as they get bored. It’s also important to allow them a chance to get down and exercise when you’re done.

Run in your neighborhood: The great thing about running or walking outside is that all you have to do is step out your door. You don’t waste 10-20 minutes in the car. So, I try to take advantage of times when my husband is home by getting in a quick run or walk alone. I’ve even been known to hire my middle school neighbor to watch the kids while I run (it’s cheaper than the gym!).

The multitasking workout: Major “nerd alert”, but I try to do aerobic activity while doing household chores (sorry, no pictures of this). I jump around, walk/jog in place, do aerobic moves while folding laundry and putting toys away, often while watching one of my favorite cooking shows. Then during the commercial breaks I do my weight exercises and/or sit-ups. The time goes by quickly, AND I actually accomplish something at the same time. The best part is when the kids follow me around and jog in place, too!

Workout DVDS: I try to do a workout DVD about 2x a week either during nap/room time or with my kids. They love doing push-ups and jumping jacks with me. I try to do a different video each time to keep this sort of workout interesting and fun. Another tip: I sometimes have a friend come over in the afternoon while kids are resting to do one of these videos with me. Here are some oldie but goodie workout DVDs I use.

Free Youtube Workouts: I’ve found some great short workout videos on Youtube for free. You might try these, but there are so many more to choose from:

10 Minute Workouts #1

10 Minute Workouts #2

30 Minute Strength Training

Pedometer Challenge: The Pedometer Challenge is SO fun and motivating and doable, if you ask me. Gather some friends and give this fun and easy idea a try! There’s nothing like seeing your steps each day (or lack there of) to motivate you to move more. Read more here.

Finding Motivation

Here are a few things I tell myself or do to help stay motivated:

1 – There are many days I don’t get around to “formal exercise” (and some days I just can’t do anything), but I always remind myself of mantra #1: some exercise is better than no exercise. I try not to beat myself up about it, because I won’t always be in this phase of life.

2 – Tell myself, “do something for 10 minutes and then you can quit at that point if you want.” I don’t think I ever have quit, because once I start I’m fine.

3 – Workout with a friend or my husband. Or talk to a friend or family member on the phone while walking. This falls under Mantra #2: Multitasking. That’s because exercise then becomes a time I can connect with friends and family.

4 – Keep the “healthy” goal in mind. Remind myself that I exercise to stay healthy for my family and so that I’ll be a good steward of my body that God has created. These motivations have worked far better and been more enjoyable than “to get thin”.

5 – Write a blog about trying to be healthy or tell a friend about your goals. Then, you feel more accountable!

6 – Invest in good resources that motivate and equip you to take good care of your body!

Check in tomorrow for Healthy Living Small Step #5: Create a Weekly Meal Plan.


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  1. Deb says:

    This post really helped me – thank you! I’m loving the “some exercise is better than no exercise” mantra. I usually do try to do little things that add up like take the stairs instead of the elevator, but I frequently put off any kind of formal workout because I don’t have time for a full-blown event. This week, I just let myself be content with squeezing in a few minutes here and there, and it really worked. I know I still need to make time for a real workout, but at least I’m moving more!