Gestation brings drastic changes to a woman’s body, her emotions, and her life. One of the common changes that many new moms have to deal with is weight gain. In fact, most are looking for ways to regain their pre-pregnancy body. The answer lies in postpartum exercise. No matter how fit you were before and even during pregnancy, postpartum exercise is good for your overall health as it helps you to get your body back after having a baby and also help reduce the risk of postpartum depression (PPD). Even, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that new moms incorporate exercise in their daily routine. According to the ACOG,resuming exercise activities or incorporating new exercise routines after delivery is important for supporting lifelong healthy habits. Of course, it’s important that you talk to your doctor before beginning your workouts.
Besides helping you get your pre-pregnancy body back, postpartum exercises can boost energy, restore physical strength, and promote better sleep. ACOG recommends aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity – anything that bumps up your heart rate and makes you break a sweat, like brisk walking or bike riding – every week, along with two days of strength training (which includes yoga, Pilates and lifting weights).
Before you starting working out again, it’s important to have realistic expectations as your body is different now and you won’t immediately be as strong as you once were. Start with simple, functional exercises you can later build on. Here are 8 best postnatal exercises that experts say new moms can easily carry off:
- Walking: This is one of the simplest and most beneficial of exercises. Walking can be done anywhere.Walking not only gets your heart rate up and builds a stronger heart, but also enhances your endurance, allowing you to work your way back to a regular exercise routine.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing: A core exercise that promotes relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing is a gente postpartum ab workout. Begin in a supine position (on your back) with your legs extended straight out and your arms relaxed by your side. Inhale and fill your belly up. Then exhale all the air out as you press your lower back into the ground.
- Swimming: Swimming is a great option to boost overall strength. This low impact workout would be gentle on the joints. A great full-body workout, swimming helps you lose excess weight and also improves muscle tone.
- Yoga: This is a relaxing but effective workout that helps stretch and strengthen your muscles. The benefits of yoga postpartum include loosening stiff muscles, reducing stress, combating fatigue and strengthening the abdominal and pelvic region. Performing yoga under expert guidance is crucial to maintain correct posture and prevent injuries.
- Kegels: Kegel exercises involve contracting and releasing the pelvic muscles and can be done almost immediately following child birth (www.babycenter.com). They improve circulation to the pelvic area and helps prevent incontinence. As the pelvic muscles tire easily, it’s best to do several contractions repeatedly throughout the day rather than in one session.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Tighten the pelvic floor muscles.
- Hold for a count of ten, then release. Repeat ten times. Try to work up to three or four sets about three times a day.
- Don’t tighten leg or abdominal muscles.
- Lie face up with knees bent 90 degrees and aligned over hips, arms extended at sides and palms on the ground.
- Pull abs in, then slowly lower right foot, stopping just before it touches the ground.
- Raise right leg to starting position and repeat on left side to complete 1 rep.
- Twice a week, do 1 set of 12 to 15 reps, resting 30 to 60 seconds between sets.
However, postpartum exercise presents a unique set of challenges as your body is still healing from delivery, and with a newborn in the house, you might be feeling very tired. As every pregnancy and delivery is different, you would also need to get clearance from your doctor before you start any exercise program.