Returning to a post-pregnancy fitness routine isn’t impossible, but like many things, the process isn’t as simple and straightforward as many individuals believe it to be. Mothers who’ve “been there and done that,” and whose children are adults, can provide detailed and all-encompassing explanations as to why this is the case.
Besides emotional and mental considerations, new mothers who are looking to resume a “normal” post-pregnancy lifestyle must adapt to the physical side of things—they must respond to the changes that take place in the human body while a child is carried. Unless one does so, returning to a pre-pregnancy style of living will prove a long, drawn-out, and hazard-wrought endeavor.
To help new mothers ease back into fitness routines and normal physical activity, let’s take a look at some useful tips and suggestions!
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch!
After an extended period of relative physical stress and inactivity, new mothers need to warm their bodies up, both in the short and long terms, before they resume their post-pregnancy fitness routines; failing to do so could result in fatigue and inefficient exercise, as well as, more seriously, injury. This necessity is consistent for all humans, regardless of their background; athletes, construction professionals, and more would be wise to gradually acclimate to their old routines following a extended breaks.
For new mothers, stretching is a must; exercise will become as safe and efficient as possible, flexibility lost during pregnancy will return, and day-to-day activities will become progressively easier.
Try performing five or so minutes of basic stretches after waking up; arm circles, toe touches, arm crosses, and more should be included in the line-up. Additionally, stretching for a minute or two after an hour or more of sitting is advisable. Most significantly of all, though, thorough stationary and moving stretches should be performed prior to engaging in exercise of any kind. All exercisers should stretch before beginning their routines, but new mothers are especially susceptible to exercise injuries that can be prevented with warm-up stretches.
Another reality of being “on the shelf” for the better part of the year is that one’s cardio and endurance won’t be what they were before the inactivity—at least not right away. Again, this is true for all humans, not just new mothers. Prenatal yoga is also an option too.
Yoga is a great way to expedite the process of reconditioning the body. Yoga’s various stretches will target and limber all one’s muscles and ligaments, which will speed up the recovery process, both from individual workouts and from pregnancy. Yoga is affordable and accessible—it can be enjoyed in a class or from the comfort of home—and the risk of suffering an injury while enjoying yoga is minimal. Last but certainly not least, yoga is fantastic for burning stress and relaxing. New parents—not just new mothers—will appreciate that!
Start Small, Increase Gradually
Many new mothers feel tempted to dive right back into their pre-pregnancy workout routines, but doing so can lead to injury and, more immediately, underwhelming results. Again, it’s unreasonable to expect to be able to resume any post-pregnancy fitness regiment after such a long break from it; it’s also not fair to you to maintain this expectation. This fact can be frustrating, but before long, it will become an afterthought; by starting small and working up to an old routine, new mothers can get into peak physical condition in no time at all.
As a general rule, cardio shouldn’t be attempted for more than half the time or at half the speed (intensity) as it was before a pregnancy; beginning with a quarter, in speed and length, of an old cardio regime is advisable. The same holds true for weight training—one quarter of the reps and one quarter of the weight, with plenty of time to rest, is the way to go. Intensity and repetitions should be increased by 10 percent weekly for about eight weeks, at which time one’s old routine will have been surpassed.
In short, performing too much exercise too soon after a pregnancy is counterproductive, and to exercise optimally and be safe, one should start with a small routine and increase its workload gradually.
Post-pregnancy fitness should be fun. It provides an opportunity to reduce stress, become healthier, and (temporarily) escape from the hustle and bustle of today’s quick-moving society. But because of deadlines, goals, and targets, quite a few exercisers—especially mothers who’re just beginning to work out again—place an overwhelming amount of pressure and stress on themselves to lift a certain amount of weight, run at a certain speed, and/or meet some other benchmark. This stress and pressure inhibits workout efficiency and renders one of exercise’s most valuable byproducts—the aforementioned reduced stress and escape from normal life—nonexistent.
Needless to say, new mothers—and everyone else—should have fun while exercising.
These tips are sure to help all new mothers ease into the workout routines they maintained prior to becoming pregnant. A little bit of work and a lot of patience will produce outstanding results, and the physical benefits of exercise will be accompanied by similarly valuable mental benefits.
Thanks for reading, and here’s to moms!
Kayla Clough is the email specialist here at OurStart. Kayla is a recent graduate of Eastern University in PA where she majored in Marketing and Human Resources. Kayla loves all things fashion, her golden retriever Max, and coffee. When she is not working, you can find her binge watching Sex in the City and baking her latest find on Pinterest.