Moms tend to lack two major resources necessary for a successful workout, says Kelly McBride, owner of Belly Pilates in Bryn Mawr, PA — time and energy.
“Five minutes can go a long way,” says Paige Chapman, yoga teacher and owner of Mama's Wellness Joint in Philadelphia.”The hardest part is setting aside the time,” she says.
After giving birth, “It’s important to get back to an exercise program,” says Natali Franzblau, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Cooper Health System in Camden, NJ. Some doctors may recommend holding off on exercise until after your six-week postpartum appointment. However, assuming an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, there’s no reason not to start walking as soon as you feel up to it, says Dr. Franzblau. Then, you can slowly increase your exercise routine as you feel better, she advises. “Don’t do anything that’s uncomfortable or painful,” she cautions.
Incorporate exercise while you’re doing other things, suggests Alisa Rose, founder of Art Fitness in Wilmington, DE. If you’ve only got five minutes, try plyometric moves — jump squats, burpees, switch lunges, pushups and jumping rope — to spike your heart rate, says Tina Hahn, group fitness instructor at Summit Fitness in Chester Springs, PA.
Use technology to help you fit some quick bursts of exercise into your day:
- Download the free Tabata app on your smartphone for short exercise drills that mix 20-second bursts of exercise and 10-second recovery periods.
- Watch and follow a 5-minute exercise video on YouTube.
- Check the OnDemand menu of your cable TV service for exercise inspiration.
Don’t just stand there
Whenever you’re standing around, incorporate some movement, says Rose.
- Do squats while brushing your teeth.
- Do side leg lifts while changing the baby’s diaper.
- Do push-ups against the kitchen countertop while making dinner.
- March in place while watching TV.
Mom & baby workout
You don’t have to wait for naptime to get a little exercise in while at home with the baby.
- Try lunges, squats or a wall sit with the baby in your arms or a carrier.
- Place the baby on the floor under you and try to give him a big kiss with each pushup.
- Do a plank face-to-face with baby.
- Balance on your behind with feet lifted and your knees at a 90-degree angle. Then, prop baby on your shins, suggests Chapman.
- Do leg lifts on the floor while baby does tummy time.
Try these exercises at the office with an exercise band for resistance or a paperweight or stapler for extra weight.
- Squats, lunges, and reverse lunges
- Tricep dips using your office chair
- Tricep extensions with an exercise band anchored on the desk leg
- Bicep curls with an exercise band anchored around your feet
Always use the stairs and park as far from the building as possible, recommends Alison Nuttall, personal trainer at Summit Fitness in Chester Springs, PA. Sit on an exercise ball at your computer to strengthen core while working, adds Hahn.
Faced with the challenge of working a fitness regimen into her busy days, Michele Mitchell, working mom of three from Limerick, PA, agrees with the experts: “Something is better than nothing. Even if you can only fit in 10 minutes, it will make you feel better. What is important is just committing to exercise and scheduling it into your day.”
Look for a snack with approximately 200 calories, suggests Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A good snack has a mix of complex carbohydrates, fiber and protein to provide a slow release of energy and sustain you through the afternoon, says Mills. Her favorite is popcorn trail mix with popcorn, wasabi, almonds and dried cranberries. She also recommends dried fruits and nuts for on-the-go snacks.
Suzanne Koup-Larsen is a contributing writer to MetroKids.