This is How You can Find the Time to Exercise as a New Mum
You went through the third trimester, you gave birth to the most beautiful being, you waited 6–8 weeks for your check up and you have finally received the “get-go” to exercise from your doctor! You are crawling out of your skin with the desire to sweat, feel your body moving again, or simply have a space to reconnect with yourself and other adults, without a screaming angel as background noise. But you soon find it is too difficult to squeeze in exercise in an already packed routine, and on top of it… you are dead tired! Don’t throw the towel yet (no pun intended), as exercising as a new mum is possible and necessary for your physical and mental wellbeing. I have been there myself, and it took me quite a while to understand how to fit in some extra movements, especially when the baby’s routine changes dramatically on a weekly basis. But I made that happened, and once I committed to it, my vitality increased exponentially.
Physical activity and exercise can have immediate and long-term health benefits. Most importantly, regular activity can improve the quality of your life, and of the people around you. We all know that including exercise in our daily routine is important to remain fit, but which are the benefit of exercising, especially for new mums?
· Exercise increases energy levels
· Exercise improves muscle strength (hello lower back)
· Exercise can help you to maintain a healthy weight
· Exercise improves brain function
· Exercise is good for your heart
· Exercise enhances your immune system
· Staying active, and especially strength training exercises, protects our bones
· Exercise may help to reduce the risk of certain cancers
· Exercise improves your mood and gives you an improved sense of well-being
· Exercise can help prevent and treat mental illnesses like depression
· Keeping fit can reduce some of the effects of aging
Now that you are aware of all the wonderful reasons why it is important to exercise, let’s find a way to add it to your week:
Incidental exercise always count — how often do you pick up your little bubba? From the changing table to the playpen, from the rocking chair to the pram. Your body is registering all these movements, so do it mindfully and with a correct posture, in order to avoid tight arm strings and lower back pain in the short run.
Walk, walk, walk. This is possibly the easiest and quickest way to ease into exercising after having a baby. Aim to walk every day for at least 30 minutes, or even less if you manage to break a sweat. Walk when the baby is asleep, or organise a catch up with another mum to a nearby café, and walk there and back. If you are really committed to it, you can also join the walking prams, which is a group of mothers that catch up on a regular basis to catch up and walk.
Find a gym with a creche. There are so many gyms with a creche, and they normally charge a minimum fee to take care of your little one for 1 or 2 hours. Otherwise, you can find outdoor classes that offer babysitting.
Go to mums and bubs classes. I do recommend joining this type of class in the very beginning when the bub isn’t crawling, and you feel the need to meet other mums and feel part of a loving community. Look for mums and bubs Pilates and Yoga classes in your area; most of the studios are now offering it.
On the weekend, take turns with your partner. It is normal to get to the weekend and look forward to spending some quality time with your little family, but prioritizing some movements (even for 30 minutes) will improve your mood, hence the time spent with your loved ones.
If you can, take a class every week. I love the idea to stick to a regular weekly class; not only you have that time off to look forward to, but you will also be able to develop friendships and enjoy a proper conversation that doesn’t include nappy changing as a topic.
Dance! I danced so much in my living room. My little one loved sleeping with music on the background, and I remember dancing to whatever song came up on the free version of Spotify. Indie, reggaeton, rock…you name it. It helped to connect my body and mind and made me feel alive with every turn and jump I took.
Exercise in the comfort of your own home. There are so many wonderful classes you can do online, for free. Hasfit.com and Fitnessblender.com are two of my favourites. You can buy the monthly program for less than $10, or you can simply choose one of the 500 free youtube videos. Some days I felt really energetic and woke up at 5am to squeeze in a 50 minutes strength training session. Other days 10 minutes was all I had.
Exercise with a mum friend. Exercising with someone else make it easier in term of commitment and compliance. Having said that, bubs nap times change quite frequently and can be very different from one baby to the other. Still, although you can’t physically exercise with that particular friend, you can set up a wattsup chat that keeps you accountable. Gym gears and sweaty pictures included.
Don’t beat yourself up. It goes without saying that sometimes movement is not an option; motherhood comes with a baggage of neverending nappy changes and sleepless night.s If you are exhausted, sore, and feel sick at the idea of leaving the house, I invite you to rest and sleep. Wait until you feel better, and then get into the groove again. I have always enjoyed exercising, but I remember going through a full month of complete and utter exhaustion. As I couldn’t face the idea of another salute of the sun, or jumping jacks, I opted for napping, stretching and meditating, until I felt ready again to wear my gym gear.
Be realistic and make it fun. If you love dancing, don’t bother going to a Pilates class; it will bore you to death and you won’t stick to it. If your baby isn’t well and needs to spend the day in your arms don’t get frustrated, as everything passes.