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Many women plan to get back on the fitness track as soon as possible after they have a baby. However, once the baby is born, many new mothers quickly realize that getting back to the gym and on a fitness plan is not as easy as they thought it would be. Many women underestimate just how long it will take to recover from giving birth. A woman’s body goes through a large and stressful transformation, so it’s important to be realistic about how long it will take to get back into the swing of things.
Benefits of working out post-baby
The benefits of exercising post-pregnancy include:
- Improved cardio fitness level
- Weight loss
- Higher energy level
- Lower stress level
- Easier recovery from postpartum depression
- Increased confidence
Post-pregnancy workout tips
Here are five things to keep in mind that will help you get on the right track and approach post-baby fitness the right way:
- Be patient and let your body recover: Even though you may be eager to get back into your normal exercise routine, be patient and avoid rushing into it. “I recommend that women do not return to postnatal or mommy and me yoga until their bleeding has stopped. If a woman gave birth via Cesarean section, she needs to wait 6 weeks before rejoining class. If you push yourself too hard in the beginning, then you can actually be setting yourself back from real recovery. That of course does not mean you need to be held hostage in your house for 6 weeks. A walk can be considered a good start to your road back!” says Debra Flashenberg in Fit Pregnancy.
- Ease into your fitness routine: Your body has changed and so has your fitness level. When you get back to the gym, it’s important that you ease into your routine and assess your body’s condition. In the first few weeks, you may need to reduce the weight you use and scale back the intensity. Build up your fitness over time.
- Do Kegel exercises and planks, and forget about crunches: “Avoid abdominal crunches, full spinal extension, and twisting exercises until cleared of diastasis recti by your doctor, fitness professional, or physical therapist,” says certified perinatal instructor Jacquelyn Brennan in Women’s Health. Other exercises, such as Kegel exercises and planks will help strengthen your pelvic floor and core.
- The gym is not your only option: Remember that your journey to shed extra weight doesn’t have to start at the gym. Start simply by going for walks or even take up swimming. Just being active and moving frequently throughout the day will help you get a good start for working out after childbirth.
- Hold off on the diet: Your body needs rest and nutrients to recover from giving birth. Delay any diets for at least six weeks, especially if you are breastfeeding. Right after giving birth, you need extra calories to aid in the recovery process and to produce milk for your baby.
Always talk to your doctor before starting any fitness routine after childbirth.