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For many new moms, exercise takes a back seat to more pressing concerns, like sleep and taking care of your growing family. But if you also make time for even short bursts of exercise, you'll find you have renewed energy for yourself and your baby. Even just 10 minutes is better than nothing, and it'll do you a world of good. (Make sure your doctor has cleared you to start exercising first.)
The key is finding an activity you enjoy that works with your schedule and lifestyle. If you're having fun during your workout, you'll look forward to it instead of dread it. For starters, try these suggestions:
- Go for a walk with your baby in a front carrier or sling. If he can sit up already, you can take him for a hike in a backpack. Just make sure your baby is well supported – a sling is fine for a walk around the block but not for a more rigorous urban walk or a hike through the hills. Whatever carrier you choose, make sure it doesn't strain your shoulders, neck, or back.
- Put your baby in the stroller and go for a walk. When your baby is at least 6 months old, you can put him in a jogging stroller and pick up the pace.
- Have your partner or another caregiver watch the baby for 30 minutes so you can get out for a walk around the neighborhood and enjoy some time to yourself. If you're working outside the house, try getting up about an hour before you need to leave in the morning and head to the gym. If you're a stay-at-home mom, get up before your partner leaves to get in some exercise.
- Bring your sneakers to work and go for a stroll during your lunch break. Ask a co-worker to join you – this will pass the time and make it more fun.
- Check out local health clubs or yoga studios. Many offer postpartum exercise classes suitable for new moms as well as daycare or even classes you can take with your baby. If your gym doesn't offer postpartum classes, pick a low-impact class that has a decent warm-up period (at least 10 minutes) and includes stretching and toning.
Note: If you're thinking of joining a club that offers babysitting services, look for one that has a safe, secure area staffed by trained childcare providers and a clean, inviting playroom stocked with age-appropriate toys and books. Also look for one with a low child-to-staff ratio (about four children to every adult) and a policy of not accepting sick children.
- Join a mom-and-baby stroller exercise program like Baby Boot Camp or Stroller Fit. It's a great way to get outside, exercise, meet other moms, and spend time with your baby.
- Consider investing in some home exercise equipment that you can use while your baby is napping or otherwise occupied. Even something as small as a jump rope or some free weights will help you get into shape.
- Work out at home. Whether you're looking to sweat it out with aerobics or kick some butt with kickboxing, there's an exercise DVD or online program out there to suit your needs. If you're on a budget, search online for free exercise videos, or download an exercise app to your smartphone.