We all know how difficult it is to stay in shape and find time to exercise – but most especially for women with babies or small kids. There’s the sleep-deprivation factor, no time and priority changes. More importantly, exercise is essential to staying physically strong, aiding digestion and elimination, coping with stress and providing the energy to do all the family tasks. So what are the fitness options for busy mothers?
The fact is, the more you can take of yourself and the better you feel, the stronger you will be physically and emotionally to take on the day with the “little ones- and all of life’s challenges.
To Cope with Stress, Improve Digestion and Aid in Prevention:
- Walking: Find time to walk at least 20 – 30 minutes a day. Breathe deeply as you walk. This improves peristalsis (the rhythmic muscle contraction that aid movement through the gastro-intestinal system) and aids digestion and elimination. As a form of aerobic exercise, it also helps strengthen the heart and relieve stress. It is easy to put the kids into the stroller or baby carriage and push them along. For older kids, have them ride their bike or tricycle beside you until they are older enough to walk and keep pace with you. Having a treadmill in the home also give you the comfort of doing this in your own home, when the kids are napping or playing peacefully? …
- Buy a Mini –Trampoline: Also known as a rebounder, this is a great form of aerobic exercise that burns calories faster than walking and therefore saves time. It also aids peristalsis and tones the body from top to bottom. Try just fifteen minutes a day. It is easy to do while children are playing or napping. Do not be surprised when the kids want to jump along with you – not a good idea for exercise purposes. If children do join you, hold both their hands and gently move up and down but do not jump with them. Be sure to also put it away after using so the kids cannot jump on it unsupervised.
- If you have time for yourself and can take a class, yoga and pilates are both great ways to keep in shape and help the gastrointestinal system to function properly as well as reduce stress and tone muscles, making it easier to handle all the daily tasks.
To Prevent Injuries
Below are some quick, but effective, exercises – specifically designed for the busy mother – for the back and shoulders to keep you strong and prevent future injuries that may occur with poor lifting biomechanics and poor posture. The heavy weight is not just the baby, but also all the fun gadgets you’re expected to lug around. It’s no surprise that our bodies need a little help to get through the day.
- Start your day, while still in bed with gentle stretching exercises. If you are not familiar with stretching exercises, picture your cat. What does a cat do when it gets up from sleeping? It stretches its paws and its spine. So stretch your arms above your head and your legs out as far as you can, alternately pointing your toes and flexing your feet. Arch your back and then as you sit up, roll your body towards your legs, reaching for your toes, to reverse the stretch. Be sure to tuck in your abdominal muscles.
- Rotator Cuff Strengthener: For this workout you will need a light theraband. The beauty about this piece of equipment is that it’s small enough to carry in your bag or your stroller. Now you have no excuses – you can do these exercises on the go, at the park or when you have a few moments to spare. You can do this exercise either seated or standing; hold the elbows close to the waist with palms facing the sky holding the theraband. Pull the hands away from each other, externally rotating the shoulders. Do 3 sets of 10-15 reps. If you do not have a theraband, use two light weights, either 2.5 or 5 pounds, depending on what feels comfortable or you can two large soup cans
Rotator cuff muscles are the small muscles that stabilize the shoulder joint. If these get weak from over use you could end up with bicep tendonitis or other potential injuries. This is very common with mothers as everything is usually done with one hand while holding the “little one- in the other.
- Plank: This is the one time in your life you are going to need arm strength, the biceps are going to get over worked from the motion of picking up the baby so it’s important to balance these out and keep the triceps strong as not to put unwanted strain on them but it also tones the abdominal muscles and strengthens the back. It is important to do it correctly. This can be done in bed before you get up but it is a more difficult to stabilize your body on the bed.
Lie on the floor face down bend your arms the at your sides. Tick you abdominal muscles so that the lower back is supported. Tuck you tows underneath so you can lift your entire body. Keeping your legs straight, raise your body so that you are supporting yourself by the balls of your feet. Hold this position for a count of 10 at first, and work up to 20, then 30 as you get stronger. Repeat 3 times.
When you finish, lower yourself back down slowly. Push up on your arms so that the arms are straight and the rest of body is on the ground, so that the back is slight arched. Hold for 30 seconds. Always do this pose after plank.
If you can, working with a fitness instructor, yoga or pilates instructor, can help you learn to do the exercises correctly and prevent injuries. There are also videos on YouTube that can should you as well, but they cannot tell you if you are doing correctly. Once you have learned the correct techniques, then you can easily maintain any routine on your own, at home.