It is common knowledge that everyone should be incorporating daily exercise into your day to day routines. Exercise doesn’t just help with improving muscle-tone, it also helps with your overall fitness and mental wellbeing as well. Every parent, from those of newborns to older children should be working on some form of daily exercise.
There are always reasons why you can’t exercise. These can include sleep deprivation, work, family crises or simply not liking it. However, the benefits of daily exercise far outweigh them. Exercise will help you to cope better with all the challenges you may be facing and will be helping you improve your own well being at the same time. By creating a balanced fitness programme you should be able to find thirty minutes a day to exercise without too much difficulty.
A study from the University of Melbourne has shown that participating in an exercise program in the first three months after giving birth can halve a mother’s risk of depression, as well as increasing her sense of well being. Once you’ve had clearance from your doctor is it important to start gentle exercise again and focusing on incorporating daily fitness into your routine. According to Professor Mary Galea, of the University’s Physiotherapy Department and senior author of the Melbourne study: “Exercise has a beneficial effect to all cells in the body. Exercise promotes the release of factors called endorphins and creates a sense of well-being. Not exercising means less release of those factors.”
Professor Gale encourages women who want to exercise safely after giving birth to contact their women’s health physiotherapists for exercise programmes that enable them to be safely active. The vast majority of hospitals have physios attached who will be able to give advice freely, and many hospitals run free information classes for women to access for support and guidance. They will help you to create a daily fitness routine that is best for you and your body.
The aim is at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day. This can be very overwhelming for busy parents. The key is to break this goal down into manageable chunks. For instance, why not aim to do ten minutes of exercise three times throughout the day?
This might mean a brisk walk in the morning with bub in the stroller followed by a light circuit activity in the afternoon and 10 minutes of playing chasey with your toddler in the evening.
It’s important to do a physical activity you know you are going to enjoy. You may not be able to do that particular activity every day but if you can schedule it in a couple of days as week it is more likely you will stick to a fitness programme in the long term.
If you enjoy zumba or pump class find a local group and commit to attending the exercise classes. Many clubs will offer crèche facilities so you can exercise while your little one is looked after. Otherwise chat with your partner or family and see if they can help you out so that you can have some valuable time out in order to exercise.
It can be far more motivating to participate if you commit to a group activity. You might join a local swimming group and pop bub in the crèche while you do your swim.
Swimming is a terrific form of exercise for women because it is low impact on their body. It is a great starting point for building up your overall fitness and has the added advantage of being gentle on your knees and joints.
The other benefit of joining in group work is that you are likely to push yourself harder and improve your fitness levels more quickly as a result.
Don’t do the same form of activity every day. Incorporate a variety so that it keeps you interested. This is also better for improving your overall fitness. Aim for 3 aerobic style sessions and 2 strength training sessions a week. Strength training sessions are vital to supporting you in developing muscle tone and definition. It won’t make you bulk up but it will reduce your chances of osteoporosis.
If possible, see if you can get some sessions at your local gym with a personal instructor. Many gyms offer trial or free memberships initially and it worth doing this to see if this is something you would like to sign up for in the long term. A personal trainer or gym instructor can create a fitness and strength routine that is safe and sensible for you and to help support you in your goals.
It can be tough to exercise on a daily basis without a specific goal or target in mind. To help with keeping your motivation levels up you should consider setting a goal for yourself. You might like to sign up for a local 4km fun run a couple of months from now or to participate in a mini triathlon.
If you had a high level of base fitness before then set your aims a bit higher. Set a fitness goal that takes you out of your comfort zone but that you know you can achieve if you put the effort in. That will help you with committing to your daily exercise programme in the longer term.