How exercise is great for ‘me’ time and 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 too 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 take priority.

Exercising is a mood booster and energy source so it’s something 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 top tips on your return

1. To start with focus on walking and your pelvic floor exercises.

2. Next I recommend looking to rebuild some of your strength back with body weight, low impact exercises like squats & lunges. Classes like Buggy fit are good for this.

3. A low impact cardio like swimming or cycling is also 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 then you can embark on a run walk program like couch to 5k which over a long period of 8 weeks with gently guide you up to running nonstop.

The long term goal for a balanced body which can stand the test of time is incorporating the 3 fundamental 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!

Sunlight 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 essential for bone health. Studies have proven babies (and adults) sleep better having been outside during the day, according to Liverpool John Moores university. Think back to all those babies that took their naps outside in a Silvercross pram 60 years ago!

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 engrained from the beginning. They cannot be what they cannot see.

* Childhood Obesity a plan for action.  August 2016