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Pressed for Time and Money: How to Stay Fit as a Single Parent

Getting exercise when your to-do list is a mile long seems impossible, and as a single parent, that list seems to go on for an eternity. Each day comes with unexpected twists and turns, and you equate a successful day with the number of tantrums you were able to battle your way through. Parents everywhere can agree that finding time for yourself is difficult, but making time for your health not only benefits you but your kids too. You are their ultimate role model.

The desire to get fit is one thing, but actually doing it is another. It seems like there is never enough time in the day. Plus, isn’t exercising expensive? Your kids eat through your funds like they are the very hungry caterpillar. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to be active and healthy no matter how little your time or budget is.

Learn how to work in a workout

You don’t have to join a gym to reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. There are plenty of routines for those busy days that can be done in smaller spaces (that have been reduced due to all the toys), with little equipment, and in a reasonable amount of time.

However, that small space is nothing compared to the size of your free time, so what can you do to fit in exercise? It might sound too simple or even silly, but schedule it. Take a look at your schedule and see when you could squeeze in a quick workout, then put it in your planner or set an alert on your phone. Make the most of your time by choosing time-efficient workouts such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Find ways to work out around your kids by choosing a gym that offers childcare services, or put on their favorite movie while you go for a run on the treadmill. If all else fails, join in on their playtime for a sweat session that adds family bonding.

If you happen to have a four-legged child, you can always play with your dog for a bit to get your daily exercise. Chasing them through the house, playing tug-of-war with a chew toy ( has you covered there), or rough-housing in the living room may not feel like a workout, but you will be burning calories. Your pet will appreciate the fun, too!

Don’t break the bank

Getting in shape doesn’t require an expensive gym membership. No matter how small or large your budget is, you can achieve your fitness goals. In fact, many of the workouts you’d do at a gym can be done in and around the comfort of your own home. In addition, you don’t have to spend time driving to the gym, so your workout is at your convenience.

There are a plethora of low-budget activities to participate in such as running, walking, yoga, or Zumba. Purchase a workout DVD and a small set of hand weights and you can host your own exercise class in your living room. And if you discover you need new workout clothes, you can look for ways to save at retailers like Old Navy.

If your budget is super tight, there are plenty of options that are free and fun. Take the stairs. Everywhere. Whether it’s at work or at the local department store, you can always add a little bit of exercise into your daily routine by always choosing stairs over elevators and escalators. At home, you can get a seriously good workout by just running up and down your own stairs. Don’t forget to have fun. You can get exercise by turning up the radio and dancing. The point is to get your body moving any way you can.

Don’t forget about proper nutrition

Probably the best tip for year-round fitness is to eat right, and this tip can be turned into a family affair. Cut back on sugars and refined carbs. Replace red meat with lean chicken or fish at least once a week. Trade sodas and juices for water, and place the sugary snacks at the back of the pantry so you aren’t tempted. A few small steps will make a world of difference, especially when combined with some sensible workouts.

Although you might think it’s impossible to work out as a parent, there are steps you can take to ensure you stay in great shape without doing serious harm to your budget or bank account. Get the family involved to ensure everyone stays on top of their health!


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