Any new moms out there? Wondering when it’s safe to rev up your exercise routine again? Even if you’re not a brand new mom, was your New Year’s resolution to give more time to yourself to get fitter and healthy? Every single one of us needs to account for time in our busy schedules to maintain a healthy lifestyle and help our kids see just what a healthy lifestyle means.
So new moms, I now you’re exhausted. Lacing up your running shoes or getting on the elliptical may seem like an afterthought. There are simple things you can do at home to prepare your body to get back to your cardio routine. Clearly, your core strength was not at it’s pre-pregnancy best after giving birth, but working on those core muscles first will make running, swimming, biking, or whatever your cardio of choice is, that much easier to resume.
Don’t assume that “core strength” is just ab work. Your core is abs, low back, hips, quads, and hamstrings. There does need to be a focus on ab work and your pelvic floor following the delivery of your child, but don’t forget that it goes a little beyond that region of your body in order to get back to and surpass your pre-pregnancy strength. Here are some great handouts that give you several exercises to do at home to regain your core strength (they are at the bottom of the list – core strengthening phases 1 and 2). Classes like yoga or pilates are great substitutes for a core strengthening routine as well. Try to do some exercises a minimum of 3 times a week.
Once you have spent couple weeks regaining your core strength (at around 4-6 weeks following delivery) it feels a lot easier to start exercise like running again. And don’t feel like you should be right back at your pre-pregnancy activity level. Take your time getting there – doing it too fast will only make you frustrated and cause you to get injured. And my personal preference is to set a goal so that you can stick to your new routine – whether that is a 5K, marathon, or any event, I think it’s a great motivator.
And try to involve your kids if possible! Strap them in a jogging stroller or involve them in your home strength routine. They’ll see you doing it and figure out someday that being healthy is important. Have fun getting fit – it shouldn’t be a chore. If you have specific questions about a training plan or strength routine, don’t hesitate to contact me!
Rachel Brewer, MD