A do-anywhere workout designed just for new moms
With a baby in the house, most moms quickly learn new efficiencies of time and movement. Nursing the baby while on the phone making an appointment with the plumber? No problem! Putting laundry in the washer, then going out to mail a letter with the baby in a front carrier while walking the dog? Hey, this is everyday life for new mothers.
You’ll need this kind of ingenuity when you’re ready to get back into shape, particularly if you’ve gone back to work, too. You can’t always count on your baby’s nap as your chance to exercise (after all, you might need to sleep, too). For example, a fun, 15-minute dance with your baby to the tunes of Bruce Springsteen can be a respectable workout. Can’t get to the gym? Designate one part of a room as your exercise spot, complete with a comfortable mat.
For some effective exercises that new moms can easily squeeze into a busy day, we went to Suzanne Olson, a certified fitness consultant and personal trainer in Philadelphia. The moves she’s created here can be done indoors or out, when your baby is awake or asleep. Begin the routine at about six weeks postpartum or whenever your doctor gives you the go-ahead. “Enjoy the baby and fit exercise in when you can,” advises Olson, who is the mother of 5-year-old triplet boys. Exercise does not have to be lengthy or grueling, she adds. “It’s important to get some physical activity every day. Use the stroller or carrier and take as many walks as possible. If going outdoors is not an option, walk at the mall.”
Staying active will help your body regain its strength and shape—and give your mind a chance to relax and adjust to the challenges of your new life.
Need to get out of the house and exercise? Take a trip to the mall with a friend. By six weeks postpartum, you’ll probably be ready for a strengthening workout (with your doctor’s approval) such as the one shown here. These moves were designed by Suzanne Olson, a certified fitness consultant and personal trainer in Philadelphia and mother of triplet boys. Do one set of 8–12 repetitions per exercise in the order shown, if possible. When you can do 12 reps comfortably, try adding a second set. End by stretching all of the muscles that you worked. Do this program 2–3 times per week.
1. Squats with hip extensions Put the brake on the baby’s stroller, then stand about 2 feet from the back of it, feet hip-width apart, legs straight. Holding the stroller handle, contract abs. Bend knees, lowering into a squat [A]. Straighten legs into a standing position and extend one leg behind you [B]. Lower foot and repeat the squat, then lift the other leg. Continue to squat and alternate leg lifts for reps (1 leg lift on each side equals 1 rep). Strengthens buttocks, quadriceps and hamstrings.
2. Stationary lunges Stand with your left hand on a railing and your right hand on your hip. Contract your abs and take a large step forward with your right foot, bending both knees so your right knee is in line with your right ankle and your left knee points toward the ground, left heel lifted. Straighten both legs and repeat for reps. Then work the other leg by turning to face the opposite direction. Strengthens buttocks, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
3. Standing push-ups Stand 2 feet from a wall, toes facing forward; place your hands on the wall at chest height, arms straight, knees slightly bent. Place your feet hip-width apart, your body at a 45-degree angle to the wall. Contract abdominals and drop your tailbone. Keeping your heels on the ground, bend your elbows out to the sides so your entire body leans in toward the wall. Straighten arms to return to starting position without locking elbows; repeat for reps. Strengthens chest, shoulders and triceps.
4. Bench dips Sit on a bench and place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on the edge, arms straight. Walk your feet out in front of you so your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, thighs parallel to the floor, then lift your hips off the seat. Bend your elbows to lower your torso toward the floor until your elbows are bent at nearly a 90-degree angle. Straighten arms and repeat for reps. Keep buttocks close to the bench seat as you lift and lower your body. Strengthens triceps.
5. Wall abs Lean your entire back against a wall, then walk your feet out about a foot in front of you. Place your hands behind your head, fingertips touching, elbows facing forward. Contract your abs and bring one knee up to hip height. Tilt your pelvis up, bringing your knee toward your chest. At the same time, gently curl your torso forward toward your raised knee; keep your lower back against the wall. Lower your foot to the ground and repeat, alternating with the other knee for reps (1 leg lift on each side equals 1 rep). Strengthens abs.