10 minute workout ideas for moms

Short, casual workouts are the new spin class. Squeeze in a few 10 minute workouts this week to feel great, build strength and stay fit. It’s true! Here’s how.

Last fall, I set a casual goal of running in the evening twice per week with a friend who lives one street over. (I did not write down this goal or schedule it firmly, which means it was more of an “idea” than a goal, truthfully.)

We ran exactly one time.

Evenings just don’t work for me. My partner often doesn’t get home until 6:30 or 7:00 and dinner is late. Kids sometimes don’t get into their beds until I am almost ready to hit the hay myself. Other nights, I’ve just been up since 5 a.m. (THANKS, TODDLER.) and don’t have an ounce of energy left by 8 p.m. I didn’t set a reasonable goal. It was a great goal for someone else’s life. Not mine.

If I continued to pressure myself to run at night when it hasn’t been working for me, I’d be the definition of crazy.


A goal must be specific and achievable. It has to be reasonable. If a goal is not reasonable for your life, your needs, and your schedule, it’s just another stressor to add to your long list. Chalk that evening run up alongside perfectly balanced family dinners where no one forgets a “please” or “thank you” and keeping a perfect Instagram-worthy house.

Not happening, no matter how “ideal” it seems.

I haven’t abandoned my goal of running more regularly. I’ve decided to change my strategy. Instead of running 30-60 minutes in the evening twice per week, I’ve decided to hit the pavement for a 10 minute workout whenever I can, between appointments and chores. I can choose to walk and/or run as much of that time as I feel up to. I just have to get out there.

Yesterday I stopped at home to drop the car off and walk to school pick up. I was a few minutes late. Not the end of the world. I got to walk a couple of kilometres and enjoy some fresh air. No counting reps, no stressing out about timers or rounds. Just moving, with intention. And at the same time, still burning calories, moving my joints & muscles, and getting my heart rate up a teensy bit. I was rushing, after all.

You might not spend your day outfitted in lycra and wearing running shoes, ready to take off for a run when the moment strikes you. But maybe there are more opportunities than you think.

Stop waiting for a free hour to get in the “perfect” workout. A free hour is the Sasquatch of motherhood; you’ve heard other people talk about it but you’ll probably never encounter it yourself.



Can you lose weight, tone up and improve your cardiovascular and muscular fitness in 10 minute workouts? YUP! One study compared women who exercised for 20-40 minutes per day to those who exercised for two or more bouts of 10 minutes per day. Guess what? The short-bout exercisers lost more weight, stuck to their fitness routines better, and ended up working out more often and for a greater total weekly number of minutes.

Why? Because there are just simply more opportunities to commit to 10 minutes of exercise. Plus it’s easy to physically commit to just 10 minutes at a time if you happen to be a little run down, underslept or suffering with a mild cold or bad mood.

Why not shift your thinking and take advantage of the MANY opportunities to sneak in 10-15 minutes of exercise every day, or even two to three times per day?

On maternity leave with a tiny one?

When baby goes down, pop in a DVD and do just 10 minutes of exercise or follow a short 10-minute workout like this. If it gets interrupted, no problem! You’ll find another 10 minutes later that day. You found 10 minutes to read this blog, didn’t you?

Work at home mama?

When you’ve got a half hour between online meetings or appointments, grab your iPod and run out for a 15 minute jog or a brisk walk. Instead of pressuring yourself to do more, keep your runners and iPod by the door and wait for the next 10-15 minute opportunity that day.

On your way to the grocery store?

Throw baby in the carrier or the kids into the chariot and power walk for 15 minutes with some walking lunges thrown in here and there, then hit the shops.

Office work not doing much for your rear end?

Keep a pair of runners under your desk and wait until you’ve got 15 minutes between appointments. Instead of getting into a project you’ll never be able to finish, throw on your runners and walk or run the fire escape stairs for 10-15 minutes. Sure, you’ll work up a bit of a sweat but you’ll cool down within a few minutes. Keep some antiperspirant in your desk!

Busy weekend?

While kids are napping or playing, challenge your partner to a competition…or record your number and track it each weekend. Who can do the most jumping jacks in a minute? Push ups (a counter-top is great for pushups in pregnancy & early postpartum) for a minute? Squats for a minute? Repeat for 2-3 competitive rounds!

Evening TV ritual?

Hop on your treadmill and run as quickly as possible, or walk at the highest incline you can manage, for the first 10 minutes of your favourite program.

How do you squeeze in just a few minutes of exercise when you can? What are your go-to short workouts? Share your ideas below!