Sunday 12 February 2012

Exercising when you have small children

I posted the other day about how pleased I was to be getting back into running, and then it all went pear shaped when I fell down the stairs last week. Luckily I wasn't too badly hurt (and even more luckily, I didn't drop the baby) but for a time I had a rather sore back and was struggling to walk very far, let alone run. Now I need to take it easy for a little while and build it back up again, because one thing that I've learned over the last week (apart from how to hold on to the banister) is that I don't want to be in that sort of pain permanently. The trouble is that once you get out of the habit it's very difficult to get started again.

I find it difficult exercising now that I have small children for two reasons. The main reason is sleep deprivation, and the fact that in the evenings a warm comfy bed is far more inviting than going out in the cold to the gym. The other reason is that life suddenly becomes more unpredictable when you have to fit things in around little people that always come first, and of course they can't just be left to fend for themselves while you pop to the gym for an hour.

I recently got some new running shoes. I've been wearing my old pair for ages which were pretty worn out, and it's amazing the difference that some new shoes can make. So I've put together some tips which I've found useful when trying to fit in exercise around my babies, in the hope that not only might they help others, but that they will also prove motivating to me!

Most importantly, I've found that the key way to keep an exercise routine going is to schedule exercise in the same way that you schedule anything else - whether it's going to work, going to a weekly toddler group or going to the supermarket. Some things that also work for me:

  • Be flexible. Keep a gym bag packed and ready so that if you spot an opportunity to get out you can take it. For example if you find that it's 6am and everyone is awake, see if you can fit in some exercise before it's time for anyone or everyone to leave for work.
  • If you have a baby that is happy to sit in the pushchair then get out for a walk. If you are serious about exercise consider purchasing a pushchair that allows you to run behind it. We have one and we've had some use out of it, although you do ideally need somewhere flat and safe to run (we used to go along the seafront). This can also be a way of getting the baby to nap.
  • If you don't have a partner or babysitters then most gyms do offer a creche facility, but it's probably easier to stock up on some exercise DVDs for when little ones are in bed.
  • Don't force yourself to exercise if you really should be going to bed...but if you do manage to get some done you should in theory sleep better (when you have the chance to sleep) and therefore have more energy the next day!
Now I just need to follow my own advice!


  1. Sorry to hear your back is still sore, hope it gets better soon xxxx

  2. Thank you! It is very nearly better, I did go for a run this morning and it doesn't seem to be complaining, so hopefully it's on the mend!

  3. Sorry to hear about your fall, that is one of those worries I always have at the back of my mind, falling on the stairs while holding the baby. I'm glad Mia is OK (and you too now of course!).

    My exercise is that Laura's pre-school is a brisk 15-minute walk away with the pushchair. So most days I do an hour of walking.

  4. The dreaded sleep deprivation. It's horrid isn't it? Before children I was little miss exercise, now I'm really struggling to fit it in, thanks for the tips, really handy. I'll definitely be giving them ago. Firm thighs and tum here we x

  5. And hope your back is feeling better, so glad the fall wasn't worse. Falling down the stairs with one of my children in my arms is one of my worst fears.

  6. Sleep deprivation is awful. Luckily we are pretty used to it now, it certainly is easier over time.

    I tend to carry Mia out in front of me, with her facing out, so when she's like that I can't see the stairs under my feet. Luckily I fell on my back and she was well cushioned. I will be much more careful in future!

  7. I also struggle with exercise. I've never really been one to do much anyway but now I've got a mummy tummy to shift so I must make the effort. Thanks for the tips!


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