Too often, new mothers forget to take care of their most valuable asset  – themselves. Exercise frequently falls to the bottom of the to-do list, but postpartum fitness routines that work offer several key benefits that make it well worth the effort.

Why Exercise?

Postpartum exercise can help you bounce back from the birth of your baby more quickly. Exercise offers a variety of benefits, including:

  • Quicker weight loss: Regular exercise helps get rid of those excess baby pounds.
  • Increased heart health and endurance: Taking care of a baby is physically demanding. Spending 20-30 minutes a day exercising will help increase your energy and endurance levels, making it a little easier to juggle the sleep-deprived nights that come with a newborn.
  • More muscle tone: Your abdominal muscles may not be the only muscles that could benefit from exercise. Depending on your fitness level during your pregnancy, your leg and arm muscles might have lost a little tone and definition too.
  • Improved mood: Exercise is an excellent way to reduce stress and improve your mood. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that help you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Better bone density for nursing mothers: Calcium passes from your body into your breast milk when you breastfeed, which can affect bone density. Regular exercise helps improve bone density in nursing mothers.

Is It Too Soon?                                                     

Doctors used to recommend that new moms wait four to six weeks to begin postpartum fitness routines. Today, exercise is fine at any time, as long as you feel well enough to handle it. If you had a Caesarean delivery or a complicated vaginal delivery, talk to your doctor before you start exercising.

What Kind of Exercise is Best?

Moderate, low-impact exercise is best when you first begin exercising. Walking offers an excellent way to get in shape. Best of all, you can bring your baby with you in a stroller or baby carrier. With so many parks in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area, you’re sure to find a perfect place to enjoy nature while you get a little aerobic exercise.

If you have a little time to spare, sign up for an exercise or dance class, or take advantage of one of the Triangle’s social weight loss support groups. When you participate in a group activity, you’ll receive the many benefits of exercise and will get to socialize with other people at the same time.

Some facilities provide day care while you use the machines or take a class, and some even offer classes you can take with your baby. If you’ve already gone back to work, take advantage of your lunch hour to get in a brisk walk. Whether you walk, swim or take a fitness class, making post-pregnancy fitness a priority will keep your mind and body strong and healthy.

The Importance of Kegel Exercises

No matter what type of exercise you prefer, make Kegel exercises part of your postpartum fitness routines. This exercise helps improve the tone of your pelvic floor muscles, which can prevent incontinence. Performing the exercise is easy. Tighten the muscles you use to control the flow of urine. Hold for three or four seconds, making sure not to tighten your thighs or abdominal muscles, then repeat ten times. Perform Kegel exercises three times a day.

Think Small

When finding time to shower is difficult, it can be hard to imagine how you’ll carve out an extra 20-30 minutes to work out. Luckily, you can break up your exercise goal into several smaller sessions and receive the same benefit. Researchers at a Taiwan university discovered that jogging on a treadmill for three 10-minute sessions is just as effective as one 30-minute jog. Take advantage of those small breaks in your day to work on your post-pregnancy fitness.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of creating a postpartum fitness plan, take advantage of the services of Lifestyle Medical Centers. The interdisciplinary team will create a comprehensive nutritional and weight management plan to help you get rid of that baby weight safely.