Three 10-minute workouts you can do with your new baby
You did it: You made it through labor and delivery and are home with your new baby. Your time is filled with breastfeeding, diaper changing and cuddling as you care for this helpless new being.
But perhaps now more than ever, you need to take care of yourself, and exercise is an essential aspect of that. “Exercising either alone or with your baby can help you get your life back to normal after giving birth,” says Gayle Peterson, Ph.D., a Berkeley, Calif., therapist who specializes in pregnancy and parenting. “Exercise not only helps you get your body back, but it also releases hormones that can help prevent the blues many new moms experience.”
If you don’t have the time or inclination for a big walk or workout, that’s OK. Research has shown that several 10-minute spurts of exercise can be just as effective as one longer session. Take a few minutes each day to do our basic “Postpartum Moves” on pg. 122. When you’re feeling up to it and with your doctor’s go-ahead, probably around six weeks postpartum, try these quickie workouts, designed by Fit Pregnancy’s fitness editor, Teri Hanson. The goal is to do three quickies a day when you have the time, for a total of 30 minutes of exercise daily. So grab your baby and start moving. You’ll both love it.
Quickie No. 1:Baby dancing
Dancing provides a light cardio workout involving all the major muscle groups. It also improves balance and coordination.
Select any kind of music that you enjoy and that makes you want to move. (Mix slow and fast songs for variety.) Hold your baby in your arms or use a secure front carrier. Keep your feet moving, lift your legs and move your hips from side to side. Remember to use your arms if your baby is in a carrier, reaching above your head and around you. (Just be sure to keep one hand on the baby.)
Quickie No. 2 Total body strengtheners
Yes, you’ll gain upper-body strength from carrying your new baby, but you also need to target your lower body and the muscles that were taxed during pregnancy. The following four moves will help you build overall body strength.
1. Baby elevator Hold your baby securely, either face
out or toward your chest. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, abs tight [A]. Bend your knees, bringing your thighs as close to parallel to the floor as possible, keeping knees behind toes [B]. Rise slowly without locking knees. Repeat for 3 minutes, about 20–25 repetitions. Strengthens quadriceps, hamstrings and buttocks.
2. Push-up kiss Get down on your hands and knees. Place your baby faceup on a large pillow under your chest [A]. With your knees under your hips, wrists under shoulders, abs contracted and neck straight, bend your elbows to lower your chest toward your baby; kiss her [B]. Slowly straighten arms and legs as you press hips toward ceiling to form an inverted V, heels approaching floor [C]. Slowly lower back to starting position on knees. Repeat for 3 minutes, about 20–25 reps. Strengthens chest, triceps and front shoulders; stretches hamstrings and calves.
3. Reverse-curl peekaboo Lie faceup and bring your knees toward your chest. Place your baby chest down on your shins [A]. Holding her there, contract your abs to
gently tilt your hips up off the floor as you lift your head, neck and shoulders to play peekaboo [B]. Lower and repeat. Repeat for 2 minutes, about 20–25 reps. Strengthens abdominals.
4. Baby bridge Lie faceup, knees bent, feet flat on floor and parallel, ankles under knees. Place your baby on your hips, just below your bellybutton, and hold her securely [A]. Keeping your head on the floor, lift your hips to form one straight line from shoulders to knees. Pause at the top, squeezing buttocks and thighs, pressing into heels [B]. Slowly lower to return to starting position. Repeat for 2 minutes, about 20–25 reps. Strengthens thighs and buttocks.
Quickie No. 3 Walking and lunging
Walking and lunging combinations are an easy, effective way to blast calories, strengthen your heart and tone your quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks and calves. Alternate 2 minutes of fast walking with 1 minute of lunges.
Brisk walking Place your baby in a secure front carrier. Before you begin walking, stand erect with your shoulders pulled back and down, abdominals
contracted. Pull your chin back so your neck is straight. Inhale, then exhale and begin walking. Keep an eye on the path in front of you.
Walking lunge Contract your abs and take a large step forward with your right foot, keeping your torso erect; do not lean forward or backward. Lower your torso and bend your knees until your right thigh is as close to parallel to the ground as possible and your left knee approaches the ground [shown]. Push off your left foot to return to standing and repeat with the opposite leg.
Get more exercise ideas from these two great videos:
Postnatal Exercise for Mom & Baby (Freya Fitness, 2002; VHS, DVD, $18). Fun, easy-to-follow moves include low-impact cardio conditioning, pelvic-floor restoration exercises, ab toners and light stretching. Front carrier required. www.freyafitness.com.
Bonding With Baby Through Exercise (Infantastic, 2003; VHS, $15). Three mini-workouts and advanced exercise options are demonstrated in soothing indoor and outdoor settings. 800-603-7610, www.infantastic.com.