By Emma Redding, Personal Trainer and founder of Buggyfit
The most ideal way for a new mum to get back into shape is by walking. I don’t mean a gentle stroll or a meander around the shops. I mean power walking…
Trainers on and stride out with good posture. You should walk at a pace that allows you to cover between 3-4 miles in an hour. For those of you out exercising with a friend or a group, you need to be able to hold a conversation- just! Make it a weekly or twice weekly date, or join your nearest buggyfit class, as pictured above.
Follow these simple exercises suitable once you have had your 6 week GP check, and clearance to exercise.
As our muscles weaken greatly during pregnancy and childbirth we are often keen to get re-toning and strengthening those muscles too. Ensure everything is done with correct posture.
- Squats (avoid if you suffered pelvic pain or Symphisis pubis dysfunction in pregnancy).
Squats strengthen the butt, thighs and hamstrings – backs of legs. Stand with feet hip width apart. Keep your spine in a neutral position. Draw your belly button back to your spine; bend your knees to a 90 degree angle, exhaling as you bend. Inhale and return to standing without locking your knees. Repeat 15 times and do 3 sets.
Start on all fours. Place your hands on the floor slightly wider than your shoulders. Ensuring you keep your belly button pulled back to your spine, lower your upper body to 2” off the floor. Your nose should be in line with your fingertips to get a good position, and to work your chest muscles. Your belly button must be pulled back all the time. Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up. Repeat 10 times and do 3 sets.
Hold a food can or small water bottle in one hand. Take the other hand over and rest it between your shoulder blades (elbow pointing to sky). Inhale and pull your belly button back to your spine, allow the weight of the can/bottle to tilt you sideways, bend as far as you can directly sideways, exhale as you drawn your stomach in a return to the original position. Repeat 15 times and then do the same on the other side. Repeat 3 times on each side. This works the muscles at the sides of your stomach called the obliques.
The pelvic floor muscles are a collection of muscles rather like a hammock, and are made up of slow twitch and fast twitch muscles fibres which benefit from being exercised at different speeds. The exercises you do should therefore be a mixture of simple lift and release muscle contractions, and gradually lifting the pelvic floor section by section (as slowly as possible – which isn’t easy) then slowly returning to a relaxed position. Do as many of these each day as is possible. They can (apparently be done in supermarket queues etc!).
These can be performed with additional pelvic floor exercises. Lay on your back on the floor, feet flat on the floor by your bottom, knees bent, arms by your side.
Contract your pelvic floor and then tilt lifting your bottom up and pushing your pelvis as high towards the ceiling as you can. Start with 3 sets of 10 and work up to 3 sets of 20
Start lying on the floor in the same position as above, hands on your thighs. Keeping your chin away from your chest and your eye line at the ceiling, breathe out as you raise your upper body towards the ceiling in a slow single count. Before each sit-up make sure your abdominal muscles are contracted.
Once you have had your GP check (usually around 6 weeks) you can join a class lead by an instructor who is fully qualified in postnatal exercise. This instructor will know all implications of exercising at this stage of your life, and will be the best person to help you begin your mission to get back in shape.
Buggyfit classes are outdoor exercise classes with a mix of cardio-vascular (fat burning) plus strengthening and toning for mum and baby can come along for the ride and fresh air. See www.buggyfit.co.uk
for more details.