Written by Joanne Shepherd for bodyandsoul.com.au
Can’t find the time to exercise? Make your newborn, baby or toddler, part of your routine, says this mum and personal trainer.
One of the hardest things when you become a new mum is making time for you. Actually, in a way, it’s one of the more important things because if you don’t look after yourself then the rest doesn't function very well.
When you’re a brand new mum it’s important to get fresh air and get the main body systems working. It helps to increase the rate of postnatal recovery, improves muscle tone, circulation, digestion, mood, sleep patterns and so much more.
Once your doctor has cleared you to exercise there are a range of options. The opportunities are endless so depending on the age of your children here are some other ways to fit in some exercise with your little ones in tow.
Putting the baby in the stroller and doing a bench to bench workout
At your local park or equivalent, complete an exercise then walk to the next park bench and complete a set of the next exercise. An example could be as simple as the following: static lunge whilst holding the pram (10 each leg), Bear crawl across 10m up and back, incline push-up, sprint, tricep push up, squat pulse, mountain climbers. (At each bench perform 10 -15 reps).
Make the most out of your baby carrier
Most newborns love the Baby carrier. I remember days where the baby was strapped to me 24/7 which made it hard to get anything done. But by placing them in the carrier you can still do a workout. It is a great way to ease back into exercise and can be done anywhere or anytime. Examples of exercises that you can perform are walking lunges, sumo squats, torso twist and punch, the chair dip, hip-raisers, wall sit, standing donkey kick (leg raiser).
Postpartum the most important thing is to listen to your body, work from inside out and focus on core, pelvic tilts and Kegel exercises.
As the baby starts to become more aware of the surroundings and enjoy the time outside there are a number of extra options that you can include into your daily workout schedule. Setting a positive and healthy example from the beginning is so important. Remember monkey see monkey do!
You don’t need gym equipment to get you started - the stroller is a great option! You can include sit ups by keeping feet on the stroller and doing peek a boo, plank/reach and tap on either side of the stroller, side and back leg lift, squats to calf raisers, lunges, one leg flute bridge/lift, push-ups, knee lifts, back leg lift to front leg crunch.
A mat is another option where the little one can have tummy time or lay on their back kicking about while you perform a sequence of exercises. They particularly like the push up and planks as you can make it into a game. It is also a great bonding time as you have no other distractions and focus the attention on them (it also takes the pain of the exercise away.)
Examples of mat exercises are leg lifts, baby weight bridge hip thrusters, Russian twist with baby, superman, side plank, extended leg lift. Some higher intensity options include burpees, reverse crunch or high knees. Yoga and Pilates is also another good mat option to include the little one in.
As children grow into the next stage they like to mimic and feel part of the workout. This is great bonding time and is also demonstrating a positive and healthy role model.
A partner workout
This is a great way to get them to burn off some additional energy. Doing exercises like squat jumps, incline push-ups, burpees, sit up hi 10’s, plank and feet taps. Your child may even have some creative ideas of their own! Anything to get the body moving.
Park and playground equipment offer great exercise options including: pull ups on the monkey bars or leg hangs and lifts. The slide is a good tricep dip option. You can use a curved ladder to do incline push-ups or hanging row. The swing can be used to do a plank tuck or Bulgarian split squat.
The options are truly endless, but the benefits from working out with kids gives you the well-deserved time for you, great bonding time (they pick up on the positive vibes from you doing something for yourself), you are setting a positive lifelong example and it can benefit their muscular and motor skills at the same time. Realistically it is ourselves who put the barriers up to exercising once we have children. Remember ‘the first step is often the hardest’ and ‘where there is a will there is a way’.
Joanne Shepherd is a personal trainer and founder of Mummactiv