How many times have you said to yourself, "I need to exercise more and eat better"? More than once I bet. The important thing to remember is that it does not have to be overly time-consuming or expensive. You just need to make the most of the time you have allocated to exercising.
It's quite important to have a good physical fitness level as a parent, especially when you're trying to keep up with the needs of a baby or toddler. There never seems to be enough time in the day and often parents are not very good at making time for themselves. However, making time for exercise will be to the benefit of the whole family. It's something that you can do together, you'll have more energy for your children, you will feel better about yourself, you'll sleep better and that's just a few of the benefits.
We've heard from many new moms that they would like to regain their pre-pregnancy fitness and perhaps even lose a little weight. It's obviously important to you, so we've asked a personal trainer to provide us with some healthy living tips and a fitness programme to follow that will help you to make some positive changes and create a fitter you.
The benefits of exercise
Exercise has many benefits including:
Increased cardiovascular fitness
Increased muscle tone
Increased bone density
Increased base metabolism
Increased energy levels
Increased self confidence
Decrease in body fat
Decreased blood pressure
And a lowering of many health risks.
In simple terms, you'll feel better and you'll be able to keep up with your children. You will also be setting a great example for the kids and hopefully get them away from the TV screen.
Basic fitness tips
Start slow and build up your pace. Like all lifestyle changes, exercise should be regular, sustainable and realistic.
Grab any opportunity. Time may not be as freely available as before your baby’s arrival, so you need to get active whenever the opportunity arises.
Think differently about exercise. Be adaptable and flexible around your circumstances and try to make physical activity a part of your day. Even simple chores like gardening and vacuuming are good physical activity.
Get active every day
Aim for about 30 minutes of physical activity a couple of times a week.
A brisk walk is ideal and is even better if you’re pushing baby in a pram .
Make the most of your garden, surrounding parks, ovals, walkways and local pools. If you can spare the money you can try gyms (with a crèche) and local community centres for classes such as Yoga or Pilates.
Try a variety of activities such as walking, cycling or swimming. Keep the variation up so that you don’t get bored.
Joining a gym can offer you a great range of group exercise classes and can also encourage a greater commitment since you have already spent the money and feel bad about wasting it.
If a gym or the outdoors is not for you then have a look at the huge range of home exercise videos and DVDs.
If you miss a day, don’t be tough on yourself. Rather use this as motivation to get back into it as soon as you can.
Start out slowly, take it easy and give your body time to adapt.
Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration.
Ask yourself if you can walk rather than drive and use every opportunity to be active.
Don’t just watch TV programmes or other entertainment with your child, get up and be part of it. If it requires them to dance then dance with them. It takes more effort than you think, but it is fun and gets you moving.
Remember - if it causes you pain, then stop the exercise (and we don’t mean give up because you’re getting tired).
Warming up and cooling down after exercise is very important.
For more information see Women’s fitness or Parenting