Getting creative with exercise post baby!

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I am lucky enough to have two beautiful boys. I now have a two and a half year old and an eight month old. My life has been launched into some kind of beautiful chaos- full of sleepless nights and crazy days and I’m already wondering where the last eight months have gone- they have just slipped through my fingers. My first son was delivered by Caesarean and my second was a natural delivery. Each birth left me with a lot of healing to do and I found that this time round it was incredibly frustrating to be laid up for so long. Even with an in depth knowledge of tissue healing I still expected my body to bounce back faster than the 6 weeks I knew it needed for the initial healing to take place. I was beside myself when 8 weeks after delivery I still couldn’t move as freely as I wanted to and although I knew I had to give myself time, I had lots to do, a toddler to look after…oh yes…and a newborn! I was so keen to get back into some form of exercise. I really hadn’t returned to form after the birth of my first son, so after number 2 I was heavier, weaker, softer and more deconditioned than ever before. I needed to move, that was all there was to it. But as simple as it sounded it was so hard to find time to do it. Between the housework, errands, countless post natal appointments, maintaining some resemblance of social interaction and keeping two boys alive and somewhat entertained there left little time for me to exercise. But it had to become a priority…so I got a bit creative. I started slow and worked my way up. As frustrating as it was I listened to my body, when it needed to rest and when it was ready for more of a challenge. Here are a few things that have saved my life over the past eight months. You may find that not only are these suggestions good for your body, they are even better for your mind so pick your favourites and have fun!!

Please bear in mind that these suggestions are just that- suggestions. If you are still in the early stages post delivery, please talk to your doctor or Physio before engaging in any exercise. For the most part, walking is fine but start with short walks and see how your body copes with it. Only work within your own comfort levels and listen to your own body. Please stay within guidelines for lifting and strenuous activity and if you have any questions, GIVE US A CALL!!! We are more than happy to help you in this incredible time.

  1. Organise walks with friends.

These days I would say 80% of the time spent catching up with friends, we go for a walk. The kids are happy to be outside and in the pram, I get quality time with my friends and can talk properly, we stop at a park for the kids to have a play and there is exercise involved too. I have found that having a date set with someone means I will make myself get there and even if that means a stressful morning, 5 minutes into the walk I am so appreciative of the fresh air that it is totally worth it. It is also really nice to just walk away from the dishes and toys and dirty laundry…it is all still there when I get home and I am much happier to deal with it after doing something for myself. Of course, the alternative is to meet for coffee, which also means cake, restless children, distracted conversation, spilt babychino, apologies to waitresses and other patrons, no exercise and a ton of extra calories that were not needed so after very little time the decision to trade cafes for walk trails was a no brainer.

  1. Find a park.

Before I had kids I never noticed parks. But they are everywhere. I could almost guarantee that if you live in some sort of metro area or suburbia, you will be within walking distance of a park. So I have started park hunting. There are loads of them around! Again we walk there. Very early on I found the 10 minute park (10 minute walk away), the 20 minute park, the hour park…you get the idea. Depending on how much time I have will dictate which park we go to. This has provided me with walk routes of various distances, which I sometimes get to a couple of times a day. My older son loves the variety and thankfully my bub will for the most part sleep in the pram or at least be very happy being pushed around in it. Again, being outside makes all the difference and often I set out for the 10 minute park, then decide to go further afield. I quickly discovered that the barrier to exercise was just the starting part- once I have started I am usually more than happy to keep going.

  1. Be Ok with just 10 minutes

30 minutes of exercise is incredibly beneficial, an hour is even better, but if the most you can do is 10 minutes, then that is still a lot better than nothing. Especially if you can fit three 10 minute bursts in per day. You would be surprised how much you can get your heart rate pumping in 10 minutes. 10 minutes is enough for a quick full body, body weight strength routine, a high intensity cardio routine, or a combo of both. For ideas, try plugging “10 minute workouts” into your search engine and see what pops up. Again, I often find that I say to myself I will just do 10 minutes, but will then find myself doing 2 or 3 of these videos. But, even if I only get 10 minutes done in the day, it is way better than nothing at all.

  1. Always wear your workout gear.

It still never ceases to amaze me that some days it gets to 2pm and I haven’t found time to brush my hair…or teeth (YUK!), let alone find time to get changed from whatever it was I threw on in the morning. So these days as soon as I get out of bed I get straight into workout gear. It helps that its super comfy. I find that if I’m dressed and ready to go I am much more likely to be able to get the kids into the pram and out the door, or do a quick workout video whilst the kids are playing around me. If I have to get changed first, it just doesn’t happen so this has worked wonders for me. Granted, some days I just need to wear my normal clothes so I feel myself again, but for the most part I have become one of those people who are always wearing gym gear.

  1. Dance

My toddler loves to dance and my baby loves to be danced with. So dance offs have become a regular in our household. We all know those mornings after no sleep, spilt cereal, vomit in the hair, broken dishes and screaming kids. Its’ definitely not the glamourous side to family life but you would be amazed how much a good old fashioned dance off will lift the mood, change everyone’s attitude and remind you that it can all be ok. It also happens to be great exercise. If wearing an activity tracker is your thing you would be amazed at how quickly the steps rack up when you are dancing and its fun, funny and beneficial with no foreseeable downsides. EVERYONE can dance. Even if you can’t dance, you can dance so just throw on some music and get moving!

  1. Teach your kids some fundamental movement skills

When was the last time you crawled, rolled, hopped, did star jumps, handstands or cartwheels? These movements are so important for kids to learn and help to build strength, balance, flexibility and coordination which are so beneficial for your kid’s physical development….and yours! I am sure I am not alone when I wistfully look at the boundless energy kids have. Even though I wish I could bottle that energy and drink it in, moving in fun and creative ways can be incredibly beneficial for adults too and often uses muscle groups long forgotten without even feeling like you are doing ‘exercise’. Doing handstands is hard work, cartwheels are hard work, even crawling in different ways can be an incredible workout. Obviously this is one for when you are well and truly healed after delivery but the options really are endless and you will be doing something truly positive for your child’s physical development, your own health and it will get the whole family laughing.

  1. Get an activity tracker and join challenges with your friends

I have started wearing an activity tracker and have a couple of friends who regularly participate in a daily or weekly step challenge with me. We can see each others progress over the course of the challenge and it’s a great motivator to get me moving. If the internal motivation is lacking, having someone else see how little movement I have done that day really gets me going and even if it is pouring rain outside I will jog around the house, be very inefficient with housework to ensure I walk more laps up and down the corridor, dance or do a workout video. If it’s a nice day, its an extra boost to get me out for a walk. Again, jogging up and down on the spot is not as good as getting out and going for an actual walk but if the alternative is sitting on the couch, then it will be a winner every day of the week. Tapping into your competitive streak (even though you may think you are not a competitive person, you may be surprised!) can be a great motivator to move.

Again I must reiterate that these suggestions have not taken into account timelines for healing and individual recovery difficulties. If anything doesn’t feel right, please listen to your body and seek help from a health care professional if you need it. But if you feel you can do some of these activities, please enjoy them, enjoy the time with your kids and have FUN!!

Cat x

(08) 9583 5165

www.enhancephysiotherapy.net.au

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