It is no question that childbirth is one of the single happiest moments of a woman’s life. Beginning or growing a family is an exciting time, one filled with joy and endless possibilities. The first time a woman takes a good look at her body post-pregnancy, however, may produce the polar opposite feeling. Pregnancy can take a toll on several areas of the body, including the abdomen, breasts and buttocks, and the demands of a new mother’s lifestyle can make it difficult to bounce back quickly. Luckily, there are a few easy, at-home exercises women can do to get their health and fitness back on track.
Can Exercise Help You Be a Better Mother?
Well, that statement may be a stretch, but exercising can certainly help you be a less-stressed mother. And it has a number of other benefits that don’t include trimming your waistline. Perhaps the best benefit of regular post-pregnancy exercise is that it can boost energy levels. In a 2006 study by the University of Georgia exercise psychology laboratory, it was found at 90 percent of the 6800 people who were monitored reported improved fatigue after beginning a regular exercise regimen. So while tying up your laces and hitting the gym may seem like the last thing you want to do when the baby hits the hay, the truth is that it can actually help keeping you going.
Not only can exercise boost your energy, it can also relieve stress, something that is bound to accumulate when you’re running on two hours of sleep per night. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, individuals who exercise regularly are as much as 25 percent less likely to develop depression or anxiety. And exercise has been proven to relieve post-partum depression symptoms. Even stepping out for a brisk 10-minute walk can produce powerful endorphins which help calm the mind and body. However, it is recommended that women exercise at least 150 minute per week to reap the full benefits.
Not sure where to start? Check out these top five exercises for kick-starting your mommy makeover:
1. Hip Bridges
The number one problem area for new mothers, unsurprisingly, is the abdomen. The hip bridge exercise helps you strengthen your core muscles, bringing in strength and balance and helping you get on your way to a defined stomach. To do this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent. Tighten your abdominal muscles. Raise your hips off the floor until your hips are aligned with your knees and shoulders. Hold for three deep breaths. Return to the starting position and repeat.
2. Forearm Planks
Planks may look easy, but they put your entire body to work. With your legs extended and forearms on the floor, raise your body off of the ground, keeping your abs and buttock engaged. Hold this position for 60 seconds, rest for 30 seconds, and repeat four times. This simple movement tests both arm and core strength.
3. Squat Thrusts
Exercise isn’t exercise unless you get your heart rate up a bit, which is exactly what this exercise will do. Get into a low squat position with hands on the floor, and then quickly jump legs back together so that you are in a push-up position. Return hands and feet to prior position, and jump an inch or two off the ground. Repeat 10 times, and complete three sets. If you’re not huffing and puffing by then, consider a career in personal training.
4. Toe Reaches
Forget regular old crunches, toe reaches work your core and your flexibility. Lie on your back with your legs elevated, and bent at the knee (should be at a 90 degree angle with the floor). Lift your shoulders gently off the ground and reach for your toes, keeping your abs engaged throughout the exercise. Do this for 45-seconds, repeating three cycles.
5. Take a Walk
A good cardio workout doesn’t have to be in sprint form. Simply adding power walking to your weekly routine can have a tremendous impact on your waistline and your heart health. Bored by just pushing a stroller? Try a slow jog or even rollerblading. No matter how you do it, getting your muscles moving again is key.