Getting to a gym isn’t exactly easy for busy parents, but the good news is that it’s easy to break a sweat at home. Whether you want to lunge your way through laundry duty or do Zumba between Zoom calls, there’s always a time and place for exercise (Hello, life hacks!). We’ve got all the best at-home workouts and fitness tips below.
Take Advantage of Free At-Home Workouts
You don't need a gym to get a great, instructor-led workout. Big-name companies like Planet Fitness and Nike and smaller gyms (try your local faves) offer free at-home workouts online. Here are a few good ones to try:
Peloton Family Fitness Classes: 10 episodes of free family-friendly programming—from meditation to cardio. Classes are appropriate for ages 5-15, and you don't have to have a Peloton bike or treadmill to participate in. Read more about it here. Peloton is also offering a free 90-day trial of its complete workout app (which is normally $13 a month), which has classes such as yoga, strength, meditation, cardio and Bootcamp, as well as the traditional indoor cycling classes.
Planet Fitness Live Stream Fitness "Work-Ins": Live streamed workout classes taught by Planet Fitness and celebrity guest trainers. Streams run every day at 7 p.m. ET. Find out more at Planetfitness.com.
Nike Training Club: Free 15, 30 and 45-minute workouts designed by Nike trainers. The training session uses simple GIFs to demonstrate each exercise, and the app has everything from bodyweight-only sessions and yoga to targeted training programs. Find out more at Nike.com
305 Fitness: If you're looking for a good dance or Zumba workout, this dance cardio studio is offering free 10- to 45-minute classes on its YouTube page.
Use Your Alexa for At-Home Workouts
What, you didn't know that besides playing music and offering endless entertainment for your kids, Alexa can also make a pretty good partner during at-home workouts? Try one of these Alexa-enabled skills to break a sweat at home:
Seven-Minute Workout - Just say, "Alexa, play the 7-Minute Workout" and you'll get a full-body workout in less than the time it takes for your kids to get dressed in the morning.
Five-Minute Workout - Seven minutes too much for you? How about five? This quickie makes for a good "get moving" push when you or your kids have been sitting for too long. Say, "Alexa: Enable Five Minute Workout."
Five-Minute Plank Workout - Even with varied types of planks offered in this Alexa skill, five minutes will feel like a long time. But it's worth it! Just say, "Alexa: Enable Plank Workout."
Fitness 30 - You pick what time of workout you want (chest, cardio, abs or yoga) and then Alexa will call out a workout move for you to do while she counts down 25 seconds. Then you get a five-second rest before starting with a different move. Your workouts can be as long or short as you want them (with a 30-second minimum, of course). Just say "Alexa: Enable Fitness 30."
Easy Yoga - You don't have to be a practiced yogi to master some of the moves Alexa will throw at you in this 15-20 minute routine. Just choose between a morning, evening or energizing routine and Alexa will guide you through it. Just say: "Alexa: Enable Easy Yoga."
Six-Minute Full Body Stretch - Keep your joints limber with this quick and easy stretching tutorial. Alexa will guide you through stretching out six body groups and help you hold the stretch for the required amount of time. Say, "Alexa: Enable Six-Minute Full Body Stretch."
Squeeze Exercises Into Daily Chores
Don't have time to plank, squat and jump your way through a 45-minute at-home workout video? No problem! You can get that same 45 minutes of exercise throughout the day by planking, squatting and jumping at unexpected times. For instance:
- Do planks while cleaning the house. If you do them on the floor, it may just motivate you to sweep, vacuum or mop more often!
- Get in a few leg lifts and or calf raises throughout your day when you’re standing at your desk, brushing your teeth or making the kids' lunch. We know you’re no stranger to multi-tasking.
- Do lunges or wall sits while you brush your teeth
- Every time you go to the bathroom or wash your hands, use the sink to do 10 pushups
- While watching TV, do backward push ups against the couch.
- Make your Netflix binge a game. Every time your favorite character's name is said aloud, do 10 jumping jacks or sit-ups.
- Do leg kicks or crunches during commercial breaks when you watch TV.
- Move your computer to a standing desk (or counter) and do leg lifts while you work, scroll or send e-mails.
Make Dance Parties Part of Your At-Home Workouts
What kid doesn't like to dance? Grab your tiny dance partner and get your groove on. Studies show dancing melts away stress—and it's a great at-home workout. Win-win!
There's a reason kids don't get tired of playing—because it's fun! So make like a kid and play! And, if you want to know the nitty-gritty rewards of a good play session, here's how many calories the average person can burn just having fun with the littles:
- Marco Polo in the pool - 200 calories
- Playground Games - 186 calories (hopscotch, 4-square, t-ball, etc.)
- Casual Soccer Game - 204 calories
- Jumping Rope - 238 calories
- Roller Blading - 374 calories
- Touch Football - 298 calories
- Badminton - 167 calories
- Frisbee - 112 calories
- Sledding - 260 calories
- Basketball - 298 calories
- Hula Hooping - 165 calories
Put Weight On During Your At-Home Workouts
Wear wrist or ankle weights as you go about your daily routine and cleaning (you can get them on Amazon for less than $20). Don't want to buy weights? Studies show just carrying your baby—in a sling or carrier—while you're walking helps you burn about double the calories as from walking alone.
If you’ve got weeds to pull—instead of bending over, use this as an opportunity to do squats. You can do the same when picking up toys. Feel the burn. According to Harvard University researchers, gardening and weeding burn up to 400 calories per hour! But that's not all: Digging, planting, mowing the lawn and raking are all workouts, too, burning at least 120 calories for a 30-minute session.
Clean the House
OK, so this one's no fun, but did you know deep-cleaning has some serious calorie-burning benefits? According to this chart published by Harvard Medical Center, heavy cleaning—including washing your car—burns up to 400 calories per hour. Think about that the next time you're peeved to pick up the toys for the fifteenth time in a day.
Organize a "Get Moving" Afternoon
Write out different physical challenges on flashcards (think: crab walk, jumping jacks, downward dog) and have the whole family participate. Need some get-moving ideas the kids will love? Here are a few suggestions.
Use Your Baby's Weight—Literally!
Need an excellent upper body workout? If you've got a kid under the age of two, just lift her high up into the air 10 times, and you're sure to feel the burn. Better yet, throw her into the air and catch her (carefully, please!). With guaranteed orders of "more! more!" toddlers actually make pretty good trainers.
Got a super-little one? Besides the simple act of carrying your bundle of joy around all day long, baby mamas can also get a whole-body workout with these fun mom & baby workout routines.
—Taylor Clifton & Melissa Heckscher