5 Ways for Busy Moms to Exercise

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We are moms. We are busy. Between work, kids, leisure time etc., we need to make time for ourselves. We need to make time for our bodies. Movement can help with lots of different things. It can make you feel good, look good, and be less anxious (One of the major benefits of exercise is stress-relief!).

Do you want to work out but not sure when you have the time? Even 10 to 30 minutes a day can make you feel better! I am a certified personal trainer, and I wanted to walk you through five basic movements that you generally want to include in your ‘standard’ full-body workout.

Here are some easy exercises for busy moms suggestions. These exercises are designed to be quick, you can do them any place, any time, and some take literally only 1 minute to complete:

  1. Hip-hinge

The hip-hinge is the first of 5 movements that should be included in your daily movements/workouts. You use these muscles to lift/pick up items (or kids!). These exercises mostly works the back of the legs/hip area. Some easy examples with just body weight (or add dumbbells or kettlebells if you have them!) are good mornings or deadlifts. It is all about keeping the legs straight (with a slight bend to protect the knees) while bending forward at the hips and working that back of the body. This will stretch and strengthens those calves, hamstrings, hips, and back.

Hip-hinge exercise movement
A typical hip hinge – make sure your back stays as straight as possible!

2. Squat

There are a TON of body-weight squat variations. It can also be combined with a hip-hinge, to where you are doing a squat first, and then going into a hip-hinge right after. Similar to a hip-hinge, this will help you strengthen your legs that you use for daily movements. The squat mostly targets the quads, glutes, and hips. For a standard squat, put your legs hip-width apart, and squat down, pushing the hips back, and sitting down like you’re sitting into a chair. Make sure the knees do not go over the toes at any time while you are doing this type of exercise.

Squat
Standard body-weight squat

3. Pushing

The next type of movement you want in your workout is a pushing movement. Push-ups are the classic example. There are many variations of a push-up. On your knees or on your toes, against a wall or on a box. Wide or narrow, single-arm, with clap, etc. You name it. Just make sure that your body is in a straight line head to toe. Your hips should not be sticking out high into the sky. The most important is that you can get a full range of motion no matter what variation you are doing. With any exercise, a full range of motion (FROM) is going to get you the most out of your (short) workout.

push-up exercise
Body-weight normal push-up

4. Pulling

Pulling is the opposite of pushing. The most familiar exercise for pulling would be any variation of a row. Renegade rows are an easy at-home exercise. You are in a plank position (on your hands), and pulling one arm up at a time, like you’re pulling something up to your chest. If you have a steady bar or table, you can also lay in a (reverse) plank position while holding on, and pulling yourself up. Or, if you want to involve your baby or toddler in a workout, row him/her up from the ground to your chest (they’ll probably laugh and like it a lot).

Renegade Row
Body-weight renegade row

5. Pressing

The last key movement is a pressing movement. You can do body-weight or take some dumbbells (or water bottles) and press your arms from a ‘goal-post’ position straight up overhead (and back down). You can also do this against a wall. Goal post to up, with your elbows and arms touching the wall the whole time (This is called scapular wall slides).

pressing exercise movement
Starting position of the pressing movement – goalpost arms

Core

All of these movements involve some sort of core, because you want to make sure your core is engaged with every exercise. Pull your navel to spine, and make sure you are squeezing your abs while performing most exercises to prevent injuries.

However, I definitely recommend doing a separate core section every time you work out. Some easy exercises that work the entire core are dead bugs, planks (front and side), bird dogs, and bicycles. Do as many as you’d like, but you can start with as little as 10 repetitions for each exercise.

Bicycle exercise
Bicycle exercise – working the transverse movement plane

Stretching

Stretching is definitely important as well. Whenever you workout, it is good to stretch as either part of the warm-up, part of the cool-down, or both. Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds to really lengthen those muscles. Stretch the muscles you are going to work (or have already worked) to prevent injury (beforehand) and soreness (afterwards). Some easy stretches I would definitely include are a hamstring stretch (by trying to touch your toes, bending at the hips), a quad stretch (hold on to your foot while laying down or standing up), a chest opener (by clasping your hands behind the back), and a tricep and/or shoulder stretch. You also have the option of using a foam roller (which is very inexpensive) for (dynamic) stretching.

Hamstring Stretch
Static Hamstring Stretch

For any of these exercises, you can do between 10-20 repetitions, for up to 3 to 5 sets, depending on how much time you have and how you are feeling. Try to work in different directions, forward/backward, sideways, and crossways. Whenever you workout, always guide your workouts based on how you are feeling! Never overexert or hurt yourself. Any type of movement is good, and there is really no right or wrong way to exercise, so even if you move 10 minutes a day as a busy mom, I would call it a success! You can also involve your children in your workouts, if you would like. Especially when it is mostly body-weight like the exercises described here, they can do the exercises with you, or you can use them as a ‘prop’ (if they are really little).

Example workout

10 good mornings or deadlifts

10 squats

10 side lunges (on each side, to get the sideways (frontal) direction covered)

10 push-ups

10 renegade rows

10 overhead presses or scapular wall slides

10 bicycles (to get the cross-way (transverse) direction covered)

Repeat all 3x (optional)

stretch all muscle groups 30 – 60 seconds

So, what are you going to do to take care of you and move your body?

*Any time you do any kind of work out, you want to make sure you have clearance from your doctor to do the type of activity you are trying to do. Especially right after you have had a baby, you want to make sure you are cleared before attempting any of these exercises. If you are working with a trainer, we will do a Par-Q+ form and ask questions to make sure we can work with you in a safe way.

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Originally from the Netherlands, Vivian moved to Memphis in 2011. She received a full athletic scholarship to combine her studies with athletics, throwing shot put, discus, and hammer for the University of Memphis. Vivian graduated with a Bachelor’s in Sport & Leisure Management in 2014 and a Master’s in Communication in 2016. After graduating, she started working in education and became a Physical Education Teacher in 2017. She taught at a private school for 3 years before becoming a stay-at-home mom to a sweet little girl, Nora (September 2019). Vivian met her husband Travis at the University of Memphis, hit it off in Europe, and married on a leap year (February 29, 2016). Together they own a quadplex in the Binghampton community. Vivian loves traveling and exploring new places with her husband and child. She enjoys hanging out with her fellow international friends, trying new exercise classes, and being creative by coloring, painting, or writing.

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