Feb 7, 2013

Exercising With A Baby

If you're a busy Mama and you're looking for some baby-friendly ways that you can exercise, the following are some great ways that can get fit while still allowing you the time you need for your family.

1. HIIT

High Intensity Interval Training is one of the best ways that a busy mother with very little free time can stay fit and strong.  Read more about HIIT.

2.  Get a good pram and get walking

If you haven't been doing any fitness work (or you have recently had a baby) I suggest starting with regular walking. Walking is a great way to ease your body back into exercise. You can set your pace and gradually make it more aerobic. The fresh air and sunshine will also benefit both you and your baby. Invite a friend or your mothers group too and it can a social event.

Adding a child

My babies are 23 months apart so right before Miss 2 was born, I bought a double stroller. It wasn't always easy keeping both children happy for the walk at first - I still vividly remember the first time I tried, we all nearly went home in tears. I persisted though and it got easier, soon we were walking an hour to a local park, having a play and then walking an hour home. The double pram was also quite heavy to push so it was an excellent workout. Some along walks like this (and occasionally jogging when hubby could mind the children) helped me lose 7kgs (15pounds) of baby weight in 3 months without changing my diet. Here are some more practical tips for taking long walks or jogging with a pram.

3. Join a team

Sometimes when it's left up to us, it can be too easy to make excuses about why we can't get the exercise we need. I've found joining a team is the best way to keep motivated. Your team is relying on you, you have to turn up and you have to put in 100%. There are many different ways you can do this. Some sports are more formal than others, some are more competitive. Find something that you enjoy and something that suits you. After HJ was born I started off by joining an evening indoor soccer of an evening once a week with some girlfriends. It got me out of the house, exercising and socialising and it allowed my hubby an hour of Daddy time with our little man. I will admit, it wasn't easy leaving my new baby at home even just for that hour (even with his Daddy), but I knew I needed the exercise. When I was feeling a bit more confident and adventurous I joined an outdoor soccer team. We trained one evening a week and played on the weekend so I was able to get my family to babysit (as my husband also plays in the mens competition). I played again last season and the logistics of organising both the children and having them babysat for the few hours that I played made things a little more difficult, but my in-laws were a great help and they enjoyed the special time with their grandchildren. Soccer is fantastic exercise and I made some wonderful friends. Find a sport you enjoy and join!

Considerations:

If jogging or participating in high-intensity exercise, breastfeeding mothers should be aware that lactic acid in breast milk may cause your baby to be unsettled (jury is out on this one). Be mindful of this and observe your baby, if you do believe it is causing problems, you can simply drop the intensity of your workout back down.

4. Increase your Incidental Exercise

Incidental exercise is the exercise you do when your not actually exercising. For example, walking around your house, hanging washing on your line, gardening or playing with your children. Every little bit of movement counts and it all adds up. Start taking notice of opportunities to move and turn ordinary everyday activities into exercise. If its possible to walk somewhere rather than drive then why not? 

5. Mum and Baby Fitness Classes

Baby-friendly fitness classes are becoming wildly popular at the moment and you're bound to find a personal trainer near you offering one. After HJ was born I did one course of 'Mums & Bubs' Pilates before HJ figured out how to crawl. I then had to give it up as I was spending more time chasing him around the room than doing any Pilates! It won't always be practical but its great while your little ones are young enough to play contently in their prams or on a blanket.

6. Exercise DVDs

These are practical because they can be done in the privacy of your own home at a time that works for you and your family. I do Yoga via DVD because our schedule just doesn't allow me time to go and do a class at the moment.

7. Gyms with crèches

Most larger gyms these days have creches that can look after your children while you workout.  It pays to do your research prior to joining though as some creche's are better than others, and some gyms require crèche workers to be qualified childcare workers, but some do not.

8. Family bike rides

Family bike rides are another wonderful way to get the whole family out in the sunshine and fresh air.  Explore new tracks and have adventures together.  Bike shops usually sell baby and toddler seats or attachments for bikes that can allow even very young children to join in the fun.

9. Treadmills or home gym equipment

These can be great if you have the room for them. There are also more and more exercises that can be done at home using just your body weight, or small pieces of equipment like kettle bells. These workouts can be very effective and you can often sign up and view videos of them online.

I hope this gives you some ideas and helps you get started on your fitness journey. All of these things can be worked into a busy family schedule without causing too much disruption to the time you spend with your family or children.