Best Quick Exercises for A Busy Mom

April 15, 2010

You rush around in the morning, getting kids up and dressed and breakfasted. Maybe you drive a carpool or walk them to the bus, and probably you go off to your own job, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Housekeeping itself is its own job, too, I know. So, how does a busy mom do a few of the best exercises to help keep herself fit? This question just came across my email, so here are some ideas.

Body Yawn (Make some space for YOU in your body.)

Stand with feet wide and strong, and reach your arms up overhead.  Yawn from your mouth, through your fingers and toes.  Relax.  Do it again.  Feel your ribs reach away from your hips.  Listen to the pops and crunches.  Notice your aches and pains or lack of them.  Take a few deep breaths.

Kitchen Counter PushUps (Great while the sink is filling with hot water to do dishes.)

Place your feet hip width apart and about 2 –2.5 feet from the kitchen counter. Place hands over edge of counter trim, shoulder width apart. Do a slow set of 15 – 20 pushups. If this is too easy, step further away from the counter, or use the wall, or floor.  If using the floor, you can balance on your feet or knees, whatever is most comfortable.  “Girl” pushups from the knees is not cheating.

Dining Chair Bicep Curls (Take a break while clearing the table.)

This assumes your dining chairs have slats or somewhere easy to hold. (If not, use a heavy jar, can, flashlight or heavy weight.) Stand behind the chair and grasp back chair rail. Soften your knees so they are not locked. Keeping your elbow pressed into your waist and the chair squared in front of your shoulder, slowly raise and lower the chair, 15 – 20 times. Change arms and repeat.

Pasta Sauce Tricep Presses. (Good while putting away groceries or reorganizing the pantry.)

Take a heavy jar or can that you can easily hold with one hand. Stand next to kitchen counter or secure shelf and hold or brace with the other hand. Stand with feet parallel, hip width apart, knees bent, and slightly tighten your butt to help brace your spine. With your working arm straight down at your side, bend forward straight from the hips, then lift your arm straight back behind you and up. Keep your elbow right were it is in that lifted position, and slowly fold your lower arm (with jar) down, forward and up towards your ribcage, maintaining a narrow frame, and reverse slowly into the extension. Repeat 12 – 20 times, slowly, always maintaining form.

Kitchen Chair Squats (For brain fitness try folding cloth napkins or dishtowels at the same time.)

Sit on a kitchen chair, feet firmly on floor, hip width apart. Arms can be crossed over your chest, extended out in front of you, or relaxed with your hands on your thighs if you are not folding. Stand. Sit. Stand, Sit. 100 times. Slow as you can. I kid you not.

Vacuum Lunges (Great for cardio and explosive strength – oh, and cleaning the carpets too.)

While pushing the vacuum forward, take a large step forward into a lunge, making sure your knee is bent up to 90 degrees, right over your ankle for good alignment and safety. Push firmly against the floor to step back to your standing foot, and bring the vacuum back with you.  Repeat on other leg, and continue, alternating legs or repeating a few times on each leg until the carpets are clean or you’re worn out! (If your knees hurt at any time, please stop.  Pain means stop.)

Foot and Back Saver (You’ll thank me for this later in life!)

Rather than bending over to pick up toys, dirty laundry, towels, shoes or other clutter from the floor, use your bare feet!  Grab the item with your toes, and lift the item to your hand, one at a time.  This may seem silly but serves multiple purposes.  You will save your back, you will exercise the arches of your feet (either preventing the need for or enhancing the action of orthotics), and you’ll get your clutter cleared pronto!  This is also a beneficial and playful activity for the kids.

Stairway Calf Raises (Good while listening to the news at the top of the hour, baseball scores or daydreaming.)

Hold onto the stair rail or wall, stand facing up the stairs with balls of feet on stair and heels hanging off, dropped an inch or two below the balls of the feet. You can do both legs at the same time, or if you’re very strong, one leg only with the other leg lifted. Slowly press the balls of the feet into the stair, raising the heels as high as you can while keeping your ankles aligned with the center of your foot. Slowly lower heels to starting position, and repeat 12 – 20 times. This strengthens calf muscles and helps prevent shin splints.

Cardio Mom (Pump up the music, or do a blast during commercials or between laundry loads.)

You really want 20 – 40 minutes a day of heart-pumping movement, but you can break it into smaller doses to get it done. Climb stairs, jump rope, step up and down at your front door threshold (my favorite while watching TIVO), even dashing around the house with your arms pumping up over your head and down – all these will raise your heart rate into the cardio zone.  Most importantly, just do it.

Sexy Mama (We have muscles everywhere we can tone!)

Remember the Kegels we did after childbirth to tone up our vaginas?  They work whenever we do them!  In the shower, on the pot, even driving the car – no one will know when you tighten those muscles as though you were stopping your stream of pee.  Once you get strong, or stronger, you can pulse in time with music and change pace from slower to faster and back to slower again.  Very healthful, with a bonus!

Mellow Mom (Steal a few minutes for yourself at either end of the day.)

Go for a walk even if it’s just around the block. Before dawn and after dark can be especially vibrant if daytimes are too full.  Wallow in your senses – smell, sight, hearing, touch, even taste. Smell the flowers, watch the sky, listen to the birds, frogs and bees, and turn off the inner jabber.  In my neighborhood, we have sour grass (oxalis) blooming everywhere, and nastursiums beginning to flower.  Taste them!

Rested Mom (Tips to help you fall asleep or stay asleep, if you aren’t falling asleep on your feet!)

Have a bedtime routine. Drink a cup of herbal tea, hot milk or cocoa. Cool down your bedroom – we sleep better if we are cool. Open the bedroom window for fresh air and outdoor sounds. Draw the drapes for a very dark room, or wear an eye mask. Clean, fresh sheets and pillowcases and a lavender-filled eye pillow are lovely. Put a pillow under or between your knees for lower back and hip relief. Some sleep more deeply with heavier or lighter blankets or comforters. Meditate for a few minutes – thinking backwards through your day can train your mind and ready you for dreams. Nighty night!


3 Responses to “Best Quick Exercises for A Busy Mom”

  1. Thanks Valerie for the tips! I’m looking forward to putting them to use.

  2. Philippa said

    Wonderful line-up! I’ll try this kitchen counter pushUps first. I have this category for exercises in my Iphone , and this one you discussed I just included via my free personal assistant app called Intuition (! Thanks to technology moms like us can squeeze through our busy schedules like doing exercises while still doing our roles!

  3. Kato said

    I just like saying “vacuum lunges”. Thanks for these reminders that we can bring awareness to how we use our bodies all day, not just during “exercise”.

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