Get back to your pre-baby self with some gentle and easy to do exercise
When you’ve just had a baby, you may not feel like throwing yourself straight into exercise classes or trying to fit visits to the gym around your baby’s routine. But you have one very effective piece of exercise equipment already sitting waiting at home – your baby’s pushchair!
Walking whilst pushchair a pushchair helps to exercise
- All the muscles in your leg
- Your glutes (bottom muscles)
- Your stomach muscles – especially when you tip the pushchair to negotiate curbs
- Your sides as you swing your legs while walking
- Your abdominal muscles and your pelvic floor
1. Doing the rounds
To get started when you have recently given birth, try to get out for a little while each day. Try to pick times when your baby might be napping – just after a feed is ideal – and hopefully when it’s not raining!
Getting out into the fresh air and seeing the sky and hopefully some green spaces has a great effect on your mood and it has been shown in studies that babies who have some fresh air every day sleep better too.
Choose a circular route starting from and ending up at your home and try to incorporate a park or green space as part of your walk. Go slowly and if you’ve had a Caesarean, be careful about curbs – you’ll find that your healing stomach may not allow you to push down on the handle, so find the slopes down to the road.
2. Start to increase the distance
Once you have incorporated a little bit of walking into your routine each day, you can start to increase the distance you walk. A pedometer like a Fitbit or a Jawbone can encourage you to go a little bit further each day and you can keep track of how many steps you have done and how far you have walked. You’ll soon be surprised at how far you can go! Aim for 20 minutes a day at least and then have a longer walk of around an hour, three to four times per week.
3. Hill walking
To give your muscles a better work-out and to concentrate on different muscle groups, try walking up and down some hills. Start with short and gentle hills and work up to steeper ones. This is a great low-impact cardio workout and it helps to improve tone in your quadriceps, the muscles that extend your leading leg as you walk up the hill. It also improves the muscle at the back of the thighs and of course your glutes – the steeper the hill, the better the workout for the glutes and hamstrings. All muscles of the lower leg are worked as well as those of the feet and it’s great for your calves. It even works the muscles of your abdomen and upper body as they keep your torso upright.
4. Find a friend
It’s fine to go out by yourself – but why not turn it into a social occasion? If you’re met a few other women whose babies were born around the same time as yours, you could continue to keep up the friendship whilst you all take some exercise too. Get together at a point convenient for you all and go for a brisk stroll together. You can always end up at a café, at a playgroup or a baby singing class. You’ll all have more fun together than if you did it alone.
5. Start to include more moves
As well as simple walking, there are plenty of simple moves that you can incorporate into your daily walk to help you target specific areas of your body. Swollen ankles still getting you down? Raise and lower on your toes and roll your ankles round and round while steadying yourself with the pushchair’s handle. Outer thighs a little larger than before you had your baby? Holding onto the handle, raise your leg from the hip out to the side. Try to bring it up level with your waist with the knee straight but not locked. Squatting and lunging are also great for legs. Take a look at Pinterest, where there are lots of ideas for stroller exercises.
6. Build up a routine
Once you have a range of moves you are happy with, you can work out a whole routine that you do a few times a week. Start with a slow walk, taking deep breaths down deep into your lungs. Take a look at our feature Walking for Mindfulness if you have been having a crazy week. When you have been walking and breathing for around five minutes, increase your speed and walk quickly for the next five minutes.
Next, using one hand to push the pushchair, start to swing your other arm vigorously as you walk. Roll your arm all the way round, first forwards and then backwards to relieve tension in the neck and shoulders – a great antidote if breastfeeding has made your neck ache a little. You can add a full water bottle held in your hand or small weights as you get fitter.
When you have walked a little way and are somewhere with plenty of space such as a park, you can start to begin your new lunges, exercises and stretches as above. Don’t forget to warm up and cool down and stretch gently before and after exercise.
7. Go to a fitness class
If you really don’t push yourself if you are alone, it might be based to join a dedicated class that you can take both your baby and your pushchair to. BuggyFit promises regimes to fit all and is taught by qualified fitness instructors and all will have training and experience with post-natal women. Classes are an hour long and involve a three to five-mile route plus exercises to tone specific areas.
There are other independent exercise with pushchair classes around the country – take a look at your local listings.
Wear sunscreen and cover up if the sun’s high – also protect your baby using sunscreen, long sleeves and legs and a SnoozeShade
Always pack the rain cover and a spare blanket if it gets cold
Wear well fitted and supportive trainers and comfortable athleisure wear
Make sure your bra fits well and will not chafe. If you’re going to running or jumping, look for a maternity or feeding sports bra.
Don’t hit a low; pack an energy cereal bar to keep your energy levels up.
When you’re choosing a pushchair, there are many things to consider. It should complement your lifestyle and your fashion sense, should be easy to manoeuvre and use and it should also be comfortable and supportive for your child. The new Stokke Xplory Athleisure meets all these criteria and more, combining form and function in a beautiful package. Read our review and also of the Stokke MyCarrier Athleisure carrier.
More to read:
What to wear? See our feature on Athleisure for pregnancy
Read about the new Stokke Athleisure range