by Ror Alexander, Integrative Health Consultant
Having a baby is an amazing yet trying experience. Loss of freedom, loss of sleep, and an all new unpredictable and constantly shifting schedule. With all of this, quite often one of the first things that tends to get lost is our own personal health and fitness as we shift almost all of our attention to this little baby who requires an enormous chunk of our time.
There are many things you can do that will allow you to still take care of yourself while taking care of your baby, but it’s important to understand that for the next little while, you may have to change your ideas about exercise and be flexible with your concepts of what qualifies as a “good” workout. On the other hand, you may develop an evolved relationship with exercise, and create an even stronger bond with your baby at the same time – and this goes for both parents, not just mom.
While it is true that the days of hitting the HIIT group workouts and fitness classes may be on hold for awhile, there are still some great workouts that parents can do with their baby. Here are just some of the ways that you can work out, while getting outside and active with your little one.
1) Find your stride with a stroller
One of the easiest forms of exercise that a new parent can do is to simply push a stroller while going for a walk. This can then lead to jogging, and eventually even some light running. The benefit of the stroller is that it also adds some light resistance to your walk or run, adding a bit of an extra challenge. This is especially true if you can find an area with plenty of slightly inclined hills.
2) Elevate your baby weight
If you want to get a decent upper and lower body workout, you can share some real bonding time with your baby while engaging in a light to moderate resistance workout. You can try moves like raising your baby up and down over your head like a shoulder press, or lie on your back on the floor and use your baby to do a bench press. You can also try some small controlled crunches with your baby on your stomach or chest, adding some weight to your abs routine, and of course you can also use a baby sling and do some lower body exercises such as squats, pliés or lunges (using a wall to make sure you keep your balance).
3) Boogie with your baby
Dancing has been deemed the greatest workout in the world. With its social aspects, the mood boosting brain benefits of moving to your favourite songs, and the heart pumping cardio, it’s hard to go wrong with a good little dance, and dancing with baby just makes it all the more fun.
4) Let the fours be with you
Another great way to work out while keeping your baby engaged, is to get down on all fours and move like your baby does. Try crawling around on your hands and knees – getting down on all fours is a great way to get a solid weight bearing core and cardio workout all at the same time. Just find yourself some space, crawl around on the floor with your baby, and make an active game of it that you can both enjoy.
5) Baby wear and tear it up
For the weekend warrior kind of parents, consider getting a little more rugged in your workouts. You will need a bit of additional equipment for this such as a baby harness or sling, but with these you can get some more advanced workouts. With a harness, you can start to do walking lunges for longer distances, pushups with you baby on your back, pull-ups on soccer goals or branches, or rows with a TRX.
6) Don’t workout on your ohm
This leads us to baby yoga. There are numerous studios all over the Lower Mainland that offer classes like “Baby and Me Yoga”, or “Mom and Baby Yoga”. This is a great option as the yoga classes provide a quiet and relaxed atmosphere for the baby, and moms and dads still get some social interaction while engaging in an excellent low impact form of exercise. Plus, you get the added benefit of having a teacher guide you through the movements – unlike the other options that have you working out primarily on your own.
Of course you can also look at joining other baby and parent fitness groups or starting your own as well.
Whether you start with regular strolls outdoors, or dive right in with a deeper cardio workout with your child, it’s best to determine your optimal exercise routine as early as possible, so you can develop a regular workout plan early on. Communication with your parenting partner is key, so you can develop a workout schedule that allows both of you to enjoy fit and active lives, either individually, or together as a team.
For more fitness ideas, contact Ror Alexander, The Wellness Architect: Integrative Health Consultant at www.roralexander.com
For more tips and resources for new parents, check out our 20th Annual Baby Guide! Available in the September|October issue of WestCoast Families magazine. Pick up a copy at a location near you, or read the full issue online here.