Between diaper changes, feedings, walking the dog, doing the dishes, making dinner, and running after curious toddlers, moms feel like they hardly have enough time to breathe – let alone do exercises!
This is one of the biggest complaints I hear from mamas who are struggling to complete a home exercise program – “I just don’t seem to be able to find the time!”
Life is busy – and especially when you have children who are dependent on you for care. I take the busy lives of moms into consideration when I prescribe exercises for my mamas. If you’re struggling to create time and space to complete your exercises, here are some practical ways you can incorporate functional exercises and movement into your day. You don’t need to go to the gym or have a lot of equipment – just a bit of creativity:
- If you simply do not remember to do your exercises and need some reminders, stick up brightly coloured post-it notes in obvious places as a cue to remember.
- Ask your hubby to gently remind you everyday to do your exercises – maybe he can join you.
- Whenever you have to pick something up off the floor – whether it’s a toy or baby – use that as an opportunity to practice your squats and lunges. Do a few extra reps on the spot if you have a chance.
- If you’re walking up or down stairs, pause on the last step and do a few step ups or calf raises.
- Associate your exercise with a particular daily activity – for example, practice your pelvic floor conditioning exercises after you finish toileting or when you’re washing your hands.
- During on activity time, play some upbeat music, pick up your baby, and dance dance dance!
- Take advantage of nap time and lay on your back with legs elevated on a stool or on the couch. Do some stretching, deep breathing exercises and conscious total body relaxation. Set your brain to pause and choose not to think about everything you need to do. If you’re lucky, you’ll fall asleep and enjoy a mini nap time too.
- When you take your toddlers to the park, chase them around and play a game of tag.
- After you’ve finished breastfeeding, take a few seconds to stretch your neck, shoulders, upper back, and spine. Open up your chest and take in a few deep breaths.
- Take an extra 2 minutes at the end of your shower while you are warm to move all your joints throughout their full range of motion.
- Go for a brisk walk with your baby – you can push a stroller or wrap your baby on your body. Hold some small hand weights and swing your arms for extra resistance.
- Once your baby has good head control, use him or her as a weight to do chest press or shoulder press. Do as many reps as you can with good form until you start to fatigue. The next time, try to do more reps.
Hopefully these are some simple ways to incorporate a bit of exercise into your day post-partum. Remember, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t seem to get back to intensive exercise right away. Many moms, including elite level athletes, do not fully return to their pre-pregnancy routine for a whole year. The main thing is to simply start by doing something. Anything! As you continue, you will increase in intensity, duration, and hopefully, in enjoyment. Try to adopt an attitude where you look for opportunities to be active and keep moving in whatever way you can – and don’t compare yourself to anybody (including your pre-baby self). As you get moving, your mind and body will thank you for it, and so will your family. A healthy you is part of you being the best you. You can do this, Mama!
When you’re ready to return to more intense activity (higher impact sport and fitness), it’s a good idea to book an appointment with The Mama’s Physio to make sure your system will be able to tolerate the exercise intensity without setbacks or problems occurring.
Does anyone else have suggestions or ideas about how they incorporate exercise into daily life?
Stay beautiful, mamas.