The Top 8 Ways to Sneak in Exercise During Busy Days

For some unknown/unholy reason, I decided to do my first-ever triathlon this year.

And not just any triathlon — the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, which involves swimming from the former prison island and then running and biking across the tectonic playground that is San Francisco.

Kill. me. now.

I know, I know. I signed up for this thing — why whine about it?

Frankly, I had no idea it would be this much of a time suck. It’s difficult for parents to sneak in workouts, but I have found some sneaky ways to do it.

Now, my goal isn’t to win it, obviously — this is my first-ever attempt — but I do want to finish in a respectable time. OK, fine. I just want to finish. So training has taken up a lot of time recently — much more time than I thought it would.

The funny thing is, I signed up mostly to remain functionally fit and healthy, to have the energy to follow around after my adventurous 6-year-old daughter. But now I find I’m barely functional at all, given the near constant soreness of multi-hour workouts.

Still, I have found ways to sneak in workouts that don’t kill me or leaving me feeling to blah to do anything else. Between childcare, work, school demands, house demands, training demands — you name it — it’s difficult some days to find time to work out. But here are some ways I’ve been trying to sneak in a healthy pick-me-up to power through the day and keep everyone in the family happy and healthy.

So here goes … the Top Ways for Busy Parents to Fit In Exercise.

  • Do it with the kids! 1 of 8
    Do it with the kids!
    I can't stress this enough. Exercise is good for all. If you can't "sneak" it in, bring in the whole family. My daughter loves to do my crazy home workouts, and she loves to go for simple jogs or even act as a barbell for me or a push-up weight. It's awesome. And fun. And we all get healthy from it.
  • Bike to school 2 of 8
    Bike to school
    If you're close enough to take the kids to school and your schedule allows for it, I've found great fun in biking to school. If the kid isn't ready to go on her own, there are some great bike seats for kids as old as 10. At least one of you will be working hard ...
  • Start a boot camp 3 of 8
    Start a boot camp
    And while you're already at school ... start a small boot camp group for fellow parents looking to get fit. I found some great workout ideas on YouTube and got together with some friends at a park near the school. The workouts were quick -- about 20 minutes -- and deadly. But we all had a great time. I wish I had done this with office mates before I started staying home, as our office had a locker room and this would have been the perfect day starter.
  • Wake up early 4 of 8
    Wake up early
    Yeah, that's a no brainer. And frankly, it's just not for me. I can't exercise in the morning before I have 5,000 cups of coffee, but I know there are a ton of running groups and boot camp groups around that offer 6 a.m. specials. For suckers ...
  • Walk. Everywhere. 5 of 8
    Walk. Everywhere.
    You've probably heard this one: Park far away from the grocery store doors or find one parking spot and do all your shopping from there, as opposed to moving the car three doors closer. It's an easy way to turn errand day into a mini-workout, especially if you're lugging a ton of bags. Now, if you're also lugging kids ... well, make them carry a bag. At the office, I remember and loved our lunch time walks around the neighborhood. You'd be surprised at what a brisk 20-minute walk can do for the rest of your day.
  • Get. It. On! 6 of 8
    Get. It. On!
    Aww yeah. I'm talking about THAT. Two minutes in heaven may not be the best cardio workout in the world -- What? Fine, you got me ... one minute -- but all those releases of hormones have GOT to be good for you. This is by far the best workout advice I have.
  • Just do it 7 of 8
    Just do it
    My favorite workouts are short and intense -- bare-knuckled butt kickers that leave me feeling woozy after 10 minutes. You can find a billion different exercises on YouTube, so find a couple favorites and mix them up. I set up a routine in which I go hard for 50 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, and repeat for 15 minutes. I can fit this in right before school pickup, when I know I'm just going to come home and get dirty with the kid in the backyard. I can finish all my chores for the day, knowing I have that half hour of hard work and cool down to stay healthy. Then I'm totally pumped and ready to go when I pick up the kid.
  • Become a night owl 8 of 8
    Become a night owl
    To build up long-distance strength, I try to get out of the house a couple times a week for a long jog after the kid goes to bed. My wife comes home from work and wants to hang with the child, while I often want to escape. When my wife puts our daughter down for the night, I take off on a jog. It's the perfect situation. Most days.

Mike Adamick writes at Cry It Out!

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