Post-natal exercise ideas

Regular increases in your daily exercise routine is the best way to get back into shape after having a baby — but you might also want something a little quirkier than just a stroll around the parl. Here are some ideas …

Postnatal exercise

To achieve extra health benefits, or to increase fitness, you will also need to add regular vigorous activity to your routine — a minimum of about 30 minutes on three or four days a week. Vigorous activity is the type that makes you “huff and puff” (when talking in full sentences between breaths is difficult), and includes activities such as squash, football, aerobics, circuit training, speed walking, jogging, fast cycling or brisk rowing.

This type of activity also will help maintain a healthy weight.

There’s no need to rush to get back into physical shape after birth — your muscles and ligaments may still be soft and can be damaged if you work too hard. It’s best to talk to your doctor before embarking on a vigorous exercise program, but these ideas might inspire you to take time out for yourself and stay in good physical shape.

Belly dancing

Apart from being a great prenatal exercise, belly dancing concentrates muscle movements around the abdomen (that has to help with the muffin top, doesn’t it?). The gentle hip motions of belly dancing help strengthen and tone the pelvic muscles, which might have been damaged giving birth.

Many women who love belly dancing espouse its quality for making women feel more confident and secure about their bodies. A lot of new mums could use that emotional workout to bounce back.

Postnatal belly dancing is generally OK for mothers at least six weeks after a normal birth, or 12 weeks after a c-section delivery. Check if your local belly dancing studio offers postnatal classes.

Pole dancing

OK, so this one isn’t for the prudes out there, but plenty of women love pole dancing. If you’re looking for an interesting workout, give it a try at one of the female-run studios opening up around the suburbs. Pole dancing works the whole body, and it increases tone and flexibility, especially on the upper body.

You can do some simple spins and slides in the beginning and then later move on to advanced moves involving self-lifts. This can be a risky exercise that needs to be done under the supervision of an instructor to prevent serious injury. And it goes without saying that it’s best to check with your doctor before you start this kind of vigorous exercise.

Baby yoga

Yoga is known to help improve posture and inner balance through poses and breathing. Baby yoga is somewhat similar — with your baby joining you, instead of doing the routine on your own. Baby yoga is a relaxing and fun way to connect with your baby. This low-impact exercise is great for postnatal recovery.

The routines might get messed up at times (when the child is unco-operative) but it’s all part of your bonding experience. You can try baby yoga on babies as young as six weeks. Depending on your baby’s temperament, you may want to try different poses to see what your baby is comfortable with.

Stroller exercise

If you think the stroller walks with your baby need a little energy, then inventing your own stroller workout could be for you. A jogger stroller (the ones with big wheels) might help you push your bub over rough paths while keeping the ride smooth.

You can basically do cardio and resistance exercises without having to hit the gym. You can also join stroller exercise groups which may be run by your local health nurse or mothers’ group.

Reasons to increase activity

Most of us know that being active and making time to exercise is good for you in so many ways. Regular physical activity can:

  • HELP prevent heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
  • REDUCE the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
  • HELP build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, reducing the risk of injury.
  • PROMOTE psychological well-being.

Increases in daily activity can come from small changes made throughout your day — they all add up. You can accumulate your 30 minutes (or more) of physical activity for health throughout the day by combining a few shorter sessions of activity of about 10-15 minutes each.

Ways to increase activity in your day

  • TAKE the stairs instead of the lift.
  • PARK further away from your destination and walk the rest of the way.
  • WALK or cycle instead of using the car for short trips.
  • TAKE your dog (or a neighbour’s dog) for a walk.
  • WALK rather than rest on escalators or travelators.
  • GET off the bus/train/tram one or two stops earlier and walk the rest of the way.
  • WORK in the garden.
  • PLAY with children in an active way.
  • CATCH up with friends by walking together rather than going for coffee.
  • TRY a new sport or go back to one you have played before.
  • DO some simple exercises (such as jog on the spot) while waiting for the kettle to boil or for food to cook in the microwave.