Caring for baby isn't a workout
Some may feel being a mother is exercise enough. It is not. Of course, activity surrounding the needs of infants, children and home does count, but it does little to advance your cardiovascular health and even less for muscular improvement. For you to feel comfortable in your body again, you need to address each of these.
Once again, time becomes the challenge. How do you find time to work out with a baby? There are a couple of ways, actually. One is to schedule a short workout each day when hubby can take over for you. Another is to incorporate baby into your activity.
If you are getting this time, make the most of it. Thirty minutes to an hour will allow time for a quick gym or video workout -- cardio, yoga, Pilates, strength or dance session. Or, you could take a refreshing power walk through your neighborhood, followed by a soothing bath for rejuvenation, reflection and a focus on yourself.
Move it, baby
If you can't carve out enough free time, make your baby part of your workout. When weather permits, put your baby in a sturdy stroller and get moving. Make sure it has a deep seat and the seat belt attached. You should also have a safety wrist strap to prevent any kind of separation from you and the stroller. If sun is a factor, shade the baby to protect his or her skin from sunburn.
Brisk walking is a great cardio choice, but pushing and maneuvering a baby in a stroller adds the element of strength to your walk. Babies become natural progressive weights for you in your quest for fitness. They start small and grow, which increases your resistance gradually and safely.
Build a better body
Strolling with baby will challenge your heart and lungs. Start on a smooth, level sidewalk or road, free of traffic, gravel and potholes -- vibration and bumping are not good for the baby or your wrists, arms and shoulders. Also, jogging strollers can teach poor posture habits because they encourage a forward lean. Concentrate on walking with your head up and a neutral spine.
As your fitness level improves, increase your pace or add incline to your walk. By walking with your baby, you are actively pursuing a healthy body and relieving stress, which will make you a happier mom. Furthermore, setting examples and instilling healthy habits right from the start will increase the likelihood that your baby will do the same. And not only is this the best gift a mother can give her children, it's also the best gift she can give herself.
Cindy Boggs, fitness presenter, author and Activate America director, has been an ACE-certified instructor/trainer since 1989. Send your questions about fitness, training or health to her at YMCA of Kanawha Valley, 100 YMCA Drive, Charleston, WV 25311, or email cindys...@aol.com. Look for Cindy's award-winning fitness advice book, "CindySays ... You Can Find Health in Your Hectic World," on her website, www.cindysays.com, or contact the YMCA at 304-340-3527.