Active Runner Mom Running On Trail With Two Kids On Either Side Of Her, Smiling And Enjoying The Outdoors

Staying Fit When You Have Kids: A Guide for Active Moms

BY Heather Mayer Irvine

Your training is probably going to look a little different after you have kids. And that's OK! Here's a few tips on how to fit workouts into your schedule as a busy mom.

If you’re a mom, I don’t need to tell you that life changes a little (understatement?) after you’ve had children – whether it’s just one child or a small brood. But it doesn’t mean that your days of fitness are behind you; they’re just going to look a little different. 

When it comes to your favorite workouts, activities, and training programs, you might need to adjust expectations and get creative. From personal experience and talking with other moms, I’ve come up with a few ways to maintain an active style (and your sanity). But as one mom of three reminded me, “It’s just a season,” and with time, you’ll discover a new normal and find your rhythm again—even if it looks different.

Keep That Pelvic Floor in Check 

If you’re a new mom, I highly suggest working with a pelvic floor physical therapist before returning to exercise. Women tend to rely on the six-week postpartum visit with their doctor to clear them for “regular activity,” but certain sports, particularly running, can cause harm if the pelvic floor isn’t properly rehabbed.

Not only do your pelvic floor muscles take on a ton of work supporting your growing baby, but they’re also more relaxed than usual due to hormones during pregnancy. The impact of carrying a baby and giving birth is different for every woman, but your pelvic floor muscles no doubt need a little TLC.

If you don’t know where to get started, consider checking out some programs designed by BIRTHFIT, which offers prenatal and postpartum exercise plans.

Reframe Your Workouts 

Sure, we all have 24 hours in a day, but those 24 hours look different for everyone. For some, this means those long, morning workouts might need to be cut short or require an even earlier starting time. For others, it means aiming for different goals (not better or worse) that accommodate their new schedule. And others might need to rework their training and activities entirely to include their children. (Again, not better or worse!)

Sophie Tholstrup, a newly minted mom of two currently living in Nairobi, was living in the mountains of Switzerland when her first child was born. “As soon as I got used to the baby carrier, leaving the house for long walks in nature was an absolute life-saver,” Tholstrup says. “It was a great way to feel like myself again, recover from a fairly tough birth, to escape routine, and introduce [my son] to the landscapes and activities I love most in the world.” 

Tholstrup and I agree, too, that parenting feels a hundred times easier and more fun when it’s outdoors. 

Make Your Exercise Kid-Friendly 

Whether you’re toting around a newborn, navigating a new crawler, or chasing after a toddler who thinks he’s a grownup, there are ways to include your kids in your activities. For the moms who ride or run, once it’s safe to do so (generally six months or when your baby has total neck and head control), pop that kiddo into a bike trailer or running stroller and, as my kids like to say, “Take off!”

Heather Mayer Irvine using a running stroller in a St. Patrick's Day race with her child

Masha Portiansky has a 5-year-old son who’s been part of his mom’s running routine since his conception. 

“I was lucky enough to run through my entire pregnancy,” she says. “I had him join on the runs in the running stroller when it was safe to do so at six months until age 3.” Portiansky ran with her son in the stroller for daycare drop offs and on weekends. 

“Now he loves to run with me and has been able to get to an uninterrupted mile at a decent pace, and does a run-walk on the return mile home.” Portiansky, her son and husband often take turns doing sprints during family track days – a nice break from Portiansky’s four-hour daily commute. 

“My son loves that he is getting strong,” she says. “It’s great getting him excited about my sport and spending quality active time with him.” 

Mom of three, Petrina Davidson, is navigating life with a 5-year-old, a toddler, and a newborn, noting that in addition to her workouts being slower, she does a lot of strength work while holding her three-month-old. 

“I work out with the baby so right now that may mean holding him while I do squats or playing with him while I do bird-dogs and bridges,” she says. The baby might do tummy time while Davidson exercises, “so it’s like we’re working out together.”

The crew of five and their dogs also go on lots of walks together, which is good for everyone, she says. She’s looking forward to summer when her older kids can bike alongside her while she runs. 

“Then we’ll end at the splash pad!”

Put The Active In Activities

Avid cyclist Jess Rogers, a mom of two kids ages 3 and under, acknowledges the sheer challenge of carving out time to exercise on her own right now. Instead, she challenges herself to integrate active time into activities she and her family need to do anyway. 

“I bike commute as much as possible, using our e-cargo bike, and try to leave a little extra time so I can keep the motor assist on a low setting,” Rogers says. “It takes a bit longer, but I get more of a workout.” 

And when her 3-year-old is at swim lessons, she uses the adjacent lap for her own swim workout. 

Prioritize Self-Care Workouts 

**This is a privilege** When I first became a parent 6.5 years ago, I knew life was going to change. Add two more kids to the mix, and it’s hard – nay, nearly impossible – to do anything alone. There are days when the only way I can squeeze in a run is to pop the kids in the stroller. I love stroller running, and we’ve made so many fun memories during those miles. But I still train at a high level, so I prioritize solo or adult-only runs. Those miles have become my self-care moments and my me time (thanks to a super supportive, capable husband, too!). 

In order to get those workouts in, I get up early, which means I prioritize going to bed on the earlier side the night before – that might mean skipping time to decompress on the couch once everyone’s in bed or ducking out from a social event early to get enough sleep. 

Friends will tell me, “Just skip your run tomorrow!” as a way to encourage me to let loose. But for me, those adult-only runs and workouts fill my cup so I can come back feeling a “good tired” and (mostly) ready to take on the day with little kids and a plate full of writing assignments. Just add coffee. 

At the end of the (long) day, give yourself grace. Momming is no small thing, and it’s important to take care of yourself, not just your children. After all, if we’re not healthy and following good habits, how can we do the same for our kids?


Barkin, J., & Wisner, K. (2013, February 13). The role of maternal self-care in new motherhood. Retrieved from

Fonti, Y., et al. (2009, October). Post partum pelvic floor changes. Retrieved from

Queensland Health. (2023, May 10). What you should know about your pelvic floor: pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy and after giving birth. Retrieved from

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Heather Mayer Irvine
About Heather Mayer Irvine
Heather Mayer Irvine is a freelance journalist based in Pennsylvania. An avid runner and mom of three, Mayer Irvine is a former senior editor at Runner’s World and the author of the Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook. Mayer Irvine’s work has also been published in The Boston GlobeMen’s HealthThe Wall Street Journal Buy Side, and Forbes Vetted. She’s never met a burger or sundae she didn’t like.

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