How exercise is great for physical and mental wellbeing

By Wendy, Running coach

Despite always being an active person, the demands of work and pregnancy meant that I didn’t do lots during the cooking of my two lovely little people. After both births, I felt distinctly ‘un-me’. I think the hardest thing was establishing a new way of fitting in exercise when suddenly someone else’s needs took priority.

Exercising is a mood booster and energy source so it’s definitely something important to get back to – but gently. Mind, the mental health charity, lists walking or running with your buggy among their suggestions for how to prevent or overcome post-natal depression, a condition that affects two in every 10 British mothers.**

5 steps to return to exercise after pregnancy

1. Start with a focus on walking and your pelvic floor exercises.

2. Rebuild some of your strength with body weight and low impact exercises like squats & lunges. Classes like Buggy fit are good for this.

3. A low impact cardio exercise like swimming or cycling is great at this point but if that’s too much faff, then just do fast walking with your buggy.

4. Set yourself a step goal to encourage general movement throughout the day. Smart watches or phones can track these for you and its rewarding to hit a goal.

5. Once you are strong enough to withstand the impact of excercise, then you can embark on a run or walk program like Couch to 5k, which gently guides you to running nonstop over the course of 8 weeks.

The long-term goal for a balanced body, which can stand the test of time, is incorporating the 3 fundamentals of fitness into your routine; Stretching (Pilates/yoga), Cardio (running, biking, swimming, walking) and Strength (body weight or weights). 

Some mums love to run solo to escape the demands of their family, while others need to fit it in when children are around and therefore use a running buggy. I always found buggy running the best way to multitask or exercise as a family on weekends. Either way, the endorphin high of exercise is a beautiful thing to be cherished!

Exercising outdoors also means more sunlight – something that is essential for us all! Infant drops are often recommended and it’s easy for adults to become deficient in vitamin D too, which is important for bone health. Studies have also proven babies (and adults) sleep better having been outside during the day.

Finally, our children learn from us and copy everything we do. In an age of 1 in 5 children being overweight or obese in Britain* and talk of a national obesity crisis, we have the ability to role model behaviour in order for the healthy habits of exercise to become engrained from the beginning. Your children cannot be what they cannot see.

* Childhood Obesity a plan for action.  August 2016