I am almost six months postpartum and I am really looking forward to getting my body back. For over eight years, this body of mine has grown four children, lost 12 due to miscarriage, breastfed, carried, and nurtured. I’ve neglected its needs, putting others ahead of what my body needed, and now that I just gave birth to my likely-last child — I am so ready to feel comfortable in my own skin.
I don’t have pregnancy pounds to lose, but I want to be fit and to make exercise a routine and a priority. But anyone with kids, especially a young baby, knows that finding time to exercise is not always that easy. I am done using “busy” as an excuse to put off what I want. While I am busy with four children, full time work, a husband who works long hours, and homeschooling my kids – there are ways to incorporate a little exercise each day when you have a baby.
1. Go for walks
I have been waiting for the weather to get better so that we could get outside in the fresh air and be active. Silver loves to move, and if I go for walks with the stroller, I can easily take the older kids with me as well and make it an adventure.
Ellen O’Hara, RN MS from Core Asset Fitness Training, LLC says, “It’s very hard to be active with a new baby for many reasons, the fatigue, lack of sleep, and new responsibilities. The best way to get moving is to walk the baby as much as possible outside. After that, start doing some basic strength moves while the baby is on the floor for tummy time, or play time. You can do elbow planks, gradually increasing your time. Start with 10 seconds and gradually increase up to one minute.”
2. Wear baby
If a stroller isn’t your thing, think about getting a comfortable baby carrier and use that to your benefit. Debi Silber, MS, RD, WHC, FDN president of The Mojo Coach says, that you can use carrying your baby to your benefit, “All four of my babies loved when I worked out while having them in the carrier. They loved the rhythmic movement of a cardio session and it put them to sleep every time.”
3. Do a baby-and-me swim class
In my community, there are an abundance of classes for mom and baby – including swimming. I haven’t gone myself yet, but with Silver’s love for water and my own, I know that the time spent together in the pool would be a great exercise opportunity.
4. Exercise in short bursts
Aaron Maibach, a NESTA certified personal trainer from Sweat Guru, says that even just short workouts (think: 10 minutes) can be an effective way to exercise, “Try pairing exercises like push-ups, squats, jumping jacks, and planks for an easy, equipment-free home workout. Every little bit counts, so get moving!”
5. Dance with your baby
When Silver was deep in his colic phase, I didn’t realize how much exercising I would be doing just from rocking and dancing him, which kept him quiet. The bonus to this exercise, other than not realizing I was exercising, was I was able to get my older kids involved too. Exercise expert Estelle Shaw, founder of Fitness Flower says music and working out go together, “Kids love to dance. Turn on child appropriate music and dance it out. Dancing is great cardio. Be silly, laugh, and have fun!”
6. Use your baby as weights
“For both moms and dads, keeping baby happy and smiling is the name of the game. Instead of just holding your new nugget, think about him as your new multi-functional weight set,” suggests Brandon Mills, personal trainer and instructor at Cycle House. Mills recommends doing three to five sets of 15 reps with your baby doing baby curls, presses, and squats, and you’ll multitask your workout and keep baby happy.
7. Find exercise DVD programs
You don’t have to leave the house to get an effective workout, and thanks to fitness gurus sharing their know-how on YouTube or DVDs, you don’t have to miss out. Petrina Hamm ACE CPT from Petrina Hamm Fitness, says asking friends which home workout program worked for them can help you find what works for you. Her recommendations for programs that will only take about 30 minutes include 21 Day Fix, Focus T25, or P90X3.
8. Make Simple Swap-Outs
Danielle Girdano, president of D’fine Sculpting & Nutrition LLC, suggests making small changes and simple swap-outs can make exercise an easy thing. “Sitting on a balance ball instead of the couch when watching TV — this simple yet effective technique will engage the abdominal gently allowing them to ‘wake up’ slowly until you can get in for the core class!” I bet if you pair this technique with the at-home movies or using your baby as a weight, you’ll fit in a well-rounded routine and exercise will be an ease.