Fitness Tips for the Single Parent Stretched on Time, Money, and Motivation

Fitness tips for the single parent
Daniel Sherwin
Daniel Sherwin

In a single parent’s never-ending list of obligations and responsibilities, personal fitness usually falls pretty low.

It’s not that single parents don’t want to focus on their own health and wellbeing, it’s just that other things often take precedence.

Some common maxims about fitness include it costs too much, I’m too tired, and I simply don’t have the time. While you may be stretched thin on cash, time, and motivation, you can still make fitness a part of your life.

Here’s how.

Invest in some inexpensive but versatile home equipment

You do not have to join a gym to get in shape. This monthly cost often turns would-be fitness-focused single parents away from their goals. With bills and child expenses adding up, who has the money to spend on a gym membership?

So don’t get one.

Instead, invest in some inexpensive home equipment. It may cost a little bit up front, but that’s all you’ll pay. First, grab a yoga mat. They are inexpensive and can serve as the base for all your home exercises – not just yoga (although yoga is great for both the body and mind). Here are some of the best cheap yoga mats.

Next, purchase some resistance bands, small free weights, and maybe some kettlebells. With this basic equipment, you can perform thousands of total body workout routines. For more essential but inexpensive home gym equipment, check here.

Make your own motivation

We’ve seen studies show that being a fitter and healthier person simply is not enough motivation to get people to work out. People need to pretty much trick their brain into exercise motivation enough that they then rewire it to want to exercise. This sort of motivation does not just happen. You really have to make it yourself.

One good way to motivate yourself is through reward. Real rewards.

Like we said, the reward of just being healthier isn’t enough. You really need to tie your exercise into rewards that you truly want. This can be food-related. It can be a purchase you really want to make. It can be watching an episode of your favorite TV show. Whatever it is, reinforcing your exercise with rewards creates what one neuroscientist calls a “habit loop”.

“An extrinsic reward is so powerful because your brain can latch onto it and make the link that the behavior is worthwhile. It increases the odds the routine becomes a habit,” notes

Another way to build yourself some motivation is to involve other people. Whether this means joining a group exercise class or telling a friend about your fitness goals and making them hold you to it, it sometimes helps to give yourself some added accountability.

Every time is workout time

If you don’t feel like you have the time to build exercise time into your daily routine, then you’re not alone. Yet plenty of busy people find a way to exercise. How? Well, the first step is to make exercise important enough in your own mind to make time for it – no matter what.

Instead of watching TV for 20 minutes, exercise. Get up 20 minutes earlier than normal to exercise. And re-conceptualize what a workout means…what if just 5 minutes was the perfect amount of time to squeeze in a quick workout? It is!  And always be thinking of creative ways to fit exercise into the activities you already do throughout the day.

Think about little things you can do. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk/ride your bike to work if you can. Go on walks during your breaks at work and hold mobile meetings. Keep those weights or resistance bands you bought in your office and do some quick workouts as you peruse documents.

It’s certainly not easy to focus on fitness as a single parent with so much else to focus on. But it is possible if you set yourself up with inexpensive but useful home equipment, get into a mindset that exercise is everywhere, and give yourself some true motivation to succeed.


Daniel is a single dad raising two children. At, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

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