How to Work Out When You’re a Single Parent Strapped for Money, Time, and Energy



There just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to do everything you need to do as a single parent. In fact, at some point or another, you might experience something known as parental burnout. And according to CNN, that’s a real thing! Although burnout looks different for everyone, it usually means experiencing feelings of exhaustion and low productivity. These are most likely times when you feel the least like exercising, but taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do, but how?

Finding the Money to Exercise

When you’re on a budget, you may need to come with some alternative ways to exercise. While your friends and coworkers are paying expensive membership fees at the local gym, you might be scrimping and saving to make sure your daughter can take her ballet lessons. But you might be surprised to know that you can do every exercise you could possibly need with an inexpensive home gym. Here’s all you need to get started:


  • Dumbbells/kettlebells
  • Yoga mat
  • Balance trainer
  • Adaptable resistance bands
  • Door-frame pull-up bar
  • Suspension trainers
  • Stationary bike or treadmill: A cardio machine is completely optional. Instead, you can opt for walks around the block, running in place, or any other activity you can do to get your heart rate up.

Finding the Time to Exercise

Time is always a factor for single parents. You can’t just leave the kids at home with your spouse to exercise at the gym. You have to get creative with your time. If you’ve set up a home gym, you can squeeze in your workouts after the kids have gone to bed, before they get up, or even while they are playing a game across the room.


If you work outside the home, you might even be able to find more opportunities to work out. For example, can you walk around your building during lunchtime? Or pack some resistance bands or dumbbells in your bag for quick breaktime workouts? The point is to be creative and find small pockets of time you can squeeze in activity. In fact, according to The Washington Post, short bursts of activity can even be more effective than longer bouts of cardio.

Finding the Energy to Exercise

As a single parent, you might feel even more exhausted than most by the end of the day. After all, you’re probably working full-time, cooking meals, cleaning, and also running the kids to their after-school activities. We don’t need to tell you that cutting back on unimportant activities might save some energy, but even if you feel like you can’t, there are a few tips to help you feel a little better and more motivated to work out.


  • Enjoy a pre-workout meal: You should eat a small meal or snack one to two hours before your workout. This ensures that your body stores a little energy for your workout boost. The meal should include protein and a complex carb.
  • Take an extra dose of vitamin B: According to Psychology Today, a lack of vitamin B leads not only to fatigue, but also depression, anxiety, and irritability. Make sure your body is getting what it needs to stay energized for all your activities during the day.
  • Drink plenty of water: We all know that water is essential to good health, but Men’s Fitness also says “the more water you drink, the more awake and alert you’ll feel” throughout the day.


No one should ever try to tell you that it’s easy to take care of yourself as a single parent, but the truth is that if you don’t, you can’t take care of anyone else. Changing a few simple things in your routine can often help you gain the energy, motivation, and ability to squeeze a workout into most days, even if they are short ones. Never underestimate the power of one positive healthy choice!


Written by: Cathy Aganoff

Cathy is an experienced physiotherapist and passionate yoga teacher. She founded TriBalance Health + Wellness to help her clients cultivate positive change and transformation.