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I'm a busy mom. How can I fit more exercise into my life?

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The question

I'm 44 and the single working mother of a 4-year-old. I walk 20-30 minutes a day to and from work, but need something to make my routine more well-rounded. What can I incorporate into an already busy day that doesn't involve going to a gym?

The answer

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Since your walks are probably done at low to moderate intensity, I suggest supplementing them with short bouts of higher intensity cardiovascular activity, and twice-weekly resistance training.

Skipping is a convenient and affordable way to fit in short bouts of cardiovascular activity. Skip for 10 minutes three times a week in the mornings before you wake your child up. This will jump-start your metabolism for the day and the impact will also help strengthen your bones.

Secondly, do two 20-minute resistance training workouts per week. I suggest buying a $10 Thera-Band. Use your own body weight and the Thera-Band to work your entire body in the comfort of your living room as your child naps or watches TV.

Some sample exercises:

1. Lunge and lateral raise: Take a big step back with your left leg. Hook the middle of the band under your right foot and hold one end of the band in each hand. Bend both knees to perform the lunge. As you straighten your legs, raise both arms out to the side until they reach shoulder height. Perform eight reps and then switch sides.

2. Seated rows: Sit on the floor with your legs straight and the middle of the band hooked around your feet. Hold one end of the band with each hand. Pull your elbows backward so your hands come to either side of your rib cage. Engage your upper back muscles to initiate the pull. Repeat fifteen times.

Trainer's tip: Try balancing on one leg as you wash the dishes, brush your teeth or do other standing household chores. For an added balance challenge, close your eyes for five to 10 seconds and aim to maintain perfect posture.

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Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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