Although it is ideal to have a spouse to coordinate exercise schedules with, for some it is not so simple. For many, they are left alone (with the kids), and finding time seems downright impossible.

In a previous column, I wrote about the importance of husband and wife working together to achieve their fitness goals. Some may have found this information useful, others irrelevant to their situation.

Although it is ideal to have a spouse to coordinate exercise times with, there are some situations where this is not possible. Some spouses work odd hours or are gone for extended periods of time. Some are single parents.

However, you still can find time to fit exercise in. Although I am not a single parent, there have been times when my husband or I have worked odd hours, making it extremely difficult.

Here are some ways to get you started:

Wake up early. Even if it is just 30 minutes before your kids get up, a 30-minute work-out video, a run on the treadmill or workout on the elliptical will go a long way. More than anything, you will have done it before the masses awake, summoning you to the call of duty. Having already taken time to exercise will free your mind and body to take care of the many other things requiring your attention.

If mornings aren't your thing, nap time or “quiet time” may be better for you. There was a time in my life where I had five kids all under the age of 5. Getting them to nap at the same time only happened in my dreams. When I had to exercise in the middle of the day, I would get a few of them down for a nap and have the others have quiet time, watching a movie or doing other activities. I would then put a barricade of chairs around the treadmill to keep them from attempting to jump on it with me. … You've gotta do what you've gotta do.

Of course, there are days when finding an hour, half-hour or even 10 minutes of uninterrupted time won't happen. In these cases, look for snippets of time to do little things. For instance, if you are popping popcorn for your kids, use that as a timer to do wall sits, lunges, chair dips or even jumping jacks. You are in the comfort of your own home, and if your kids laugh at you, just smile — or better yet, have them do the exercises with you. Which brings me to my next point:

Involve your kids. For many, this can be as simple as taking them in the jogging stroller. If you have outgrown that — which I did very quickly — you can have them do exercise videos with you by giving them their own “weights” or bands to use (we have made our own out of cans and other household items).

One of my favorite things is to have them take turns being my weights. I will put my kids on my legs and do leg lifts, bench press them and even do push-ups (with a kiss in between). The kids love it, and it is one of the best exercises out there.

Finding time to exercise is an often daunting task, but with a lot of determination, planning and creativity, it can be done.

Arianne Brown is a graduate of SUU, mother to five young kids and an avid runner. Contact her at, go to her blog at or follow her on twitter @arimom5