As a mum, finding time to maintain a regular fitness routine when you have children to look after can be a challenge – whether it be taking care of a newborn, caring for a toddler, or providing endless lifts for school children.

Research from the recent Total Fitness Real Life Ready report revealed that 42% of parents to young children would like to be fitter, however only 19% regularly working out. There’s a big discrepancy there that needs to be adjusted.

Indeed, for all the mothers out there’s continued happiness and health, it’s important to set aside time for yourself so you can maintain a healthy lifestyle. Firstly, a reframe; understand that working out needn’t be a chore. Instead, take advantage of some of the daily roles of childcare and turn these situations into an opportunity to exercise. 

To explain how you can fit in a workout while looking after children, we’ve teamed up with Steven Virtue, Fitness Content and Programming Manager at Total Fitness, the North’s leading mid-market health club, to give you these 5 IDEAL hacks to help mums find the time to workout.


While we get that you probably want to have a nap too, for mums with a newborn baby or toddler, naptime provides the perfect opportunity for you to fit in a quick workout, whether you’re at home or on the move. Home workouts are a great alternative if you can’t make it to the gym, with a variety of fitness DVDs or online routines available – simply find one which suits your fitness level and with an instructor enjoy spending virtual time with, and you’re good to go.

If you prefer planning your own workout, create your own HIIT circuit (high intensity interval training), using weights and dumbbells where you feel comfortable to raise the intensity. HIIT training is an excellent calorie burner and can be squeezed into as much or as little time as you have – perfect for while your child is napping. Check out our tips on how to a HIIT workout at home with no equipment for more advice.


If you’re out and about, going for a brisk walk or jog with your child’s pram (they’re in the pram, obvs) allows you to fit in a cardio workout while they enjoy their morning or afternoon nap. This helps to strengthen your core and arm muscles whilst you push the pram and allows you to get some fresh air as you exercise. Whether you’re nipping to the shops or taking a stroll around the park, turning your walking routine into a gentle exercise will keep you active.


Whilst your toddler or school child is enjoying their playtime, join in and make this a time for you to be active as well. Whether it’s going for a bike ride, playing football or an afternoon at the local playground, keep yourself fit by spending quality time with your children and enjoy the health benefits it has to offer. Indeed, a ‘workout’ needn’t be a sweaty session on the treadmill; reframe how you view keeping fit. If it raises the heart rate, it counts.


Zumba routines are a great way to involve your children in your routine since they will love dancing around the room with you, and that’s a guarantee. Not only is it super fun for all the family, but you will also burn fat as you move. Alternatively, why not make working out an educational experience, asking them to count your reps – perhaps throwing in some multiplications – as you do various exercises. This is a great way to maintain a healthy lifestyle whilst spending quality time with your little ones.


It can be difficult to find the motivation to work out on your own. An easy solution is to buddy up with one of your family members or friends – preferably someone with a child themselves and who has similar fitness goals to you. Plan in play dates, so whilst the children play together safely, you can both fit in a quick exercise routine to help you stay active. If you fancy going outside, take a trip to the local playground or park together. Walking remains a great way to increase cardiovascular fitness, burn calories and strengthen joints, and is easy to fit into your daily routine.