One of the biggest hurdles to overcome after pregnancy is getting active again
Life can seem stressful enough now that you have one more to care for, and putting aside time to exercise might therefore seem indulgent. But there are so many benefits to exercising – especially for post-pregnancy women and their families – that they can’t be ignored.
Why is exercise so important?
The general and ongoing benefits of exercise are well known. Ideally we should all be getting enough exercise, but this is not always the case. Especially if you are trying to conceive or are already pregnant, consider how forming these habits early can benefit you in the long run. Some of these benefits include:
Exercise releases endorphins to give you that balloon-in-your-chest feeling, plus completing a workout is a great way to train and focus your willpower.
Better sleep means you start your day off on the right foot, helping you focus for longer.
Increased sex drive
Not only important for your self-esteem, but also for your emotional wellbeing and the health of your relationship.
Healthy weight maintenance
The maintenance of healthy weight and therefore your hormone levels means that you are less likely to develop lifestyle illnesses or get sick from communicable diseases.
Why should I exercise after birth?
The health benefits of postnatal exercise – physical, emotional and mental – will translate beyond you to your family. Don’t conceive of exercise as a selfish or vain pursuit; it is a genuine choice to do the best by you and your newborn.
Recover and maintain healthy weight
This is the one that gets the most coverage. Although we don’t all have the resources of Miranda Kerr to be back on the catwalk in weeks, exercise does help us achieve a healthy weight specific to each of us.
Over 9 months your body has endured some major changes…only for it to change back again! Help your back, legs and core out by stretching and strengthening them.
Opportunity for social interaction
Socialising is not only good for your mental and emotional health (which translates to physical health,) but affords you the opportunity to share information and learn from others.
The rush of endorphins from exercise is a great natural high that can combat feelings of isolation and low self-esteem.
Improved feelings of self-worth
Exercise in today’s day and age, let alone with a newborn, is an achievement in itself. You will look better and feel better about yourself, and others will notice it.
Improve your sleep quality
While your baby adapts to life on the outside, your opportunities to sleep might be limited. Exercise, however, will lead to better quality sleep for you when those opportunities arise.
Happy mum, happy baby
While we tend to think that priority one is baby's happiness, sometimes we forget that baby can sense our stress. Exercise goes a long way to keeping us grounded, good humoured and content, and this will inevitably translate to a happy baby.
What types of exercise are safe for me to do?
Basically, whatever feels right. The only considerations to make are that shortly after pregnancy your body will be fatigued, and if you go too hard early you risk injury and a lowered-immune system. If you have had any surgery resulting from the pregnancy you will need to wait until you are fully healed, and you should consider getting prior clearance from your doctor at your first postnatal checkup.
Where and when do I begin?
It is suggested that most women wait until 6-8 weeks to begin anything more than walking. Just don’t leave it too long to avoid falling out of habit, plus missing out on all the great benefits. So, all things considered, the sooner the better. The great thing is, however, that you can start basically anywhere.
At this point you’re the one who should be taking baby steps. There’s no point sabotaging yourself by expecting to attain your pre-pregnancy fitness or body straight away (if at all). That is entirely normal. But do recognise how beneficial exercise is to the health and happiness of you, your baby and your family – and act on it!
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