Top 7 tips for exercise with babies

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1. Get your 6 week check out of the way.

Exercise?!
Part of me was desperate to get out and do something until the other half of me remembered that I am not as fit as I was 12 months ago and getting active again was not going to happen overnight. It’s vital for any new Mum to have their 6 week check before undertaking any exercise – those who have had c-section will need to take further advice and guidance.

Don’t just jump into exercise, find classes that are especially for new mums, take it easy and build up slowly. Get advice from professionals.

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2. Be prepared – especially if breast feeding.

The first time I went out for a run – and when I say run, I mean part jog / part walk, I forgot to put breast pads in my sports bra and was soon heading home at a much faster pace than I had set out at, sporting two matching wet patches. Nice.

3. Have a realistic aim.

Your aim must reflect your fitness levels before you were pregnant – if you were not a runner before then the target of a marathon will be a stretch too far to begin with!
Your aim must also take into account how much exercise you have done in the last 12 months, labour complications, fitness levels and how much time you can commit to exercise. I decided to sign up for a 10km in 3 months time and a half marathon the day before I go back to work (6 months away). Before my pregnancy I ran very regularly and so these are reasonable targets to have. If you are not sure – get advice!

4.  Get other people involved.

My NCT group has done lots of activities together including buggy bootcamps – see below. There are lots of initiatives to get new mums out and about and some are even free. If you don’t know anyone else wanting to exercise, by going to these groups you will find other people to support and motivate you.

Exercise is more fun with friends and having a joint aim will ensure you push each other towards the finishing line – maybe even literally.

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5. The right kit.

You don’t need a load of expensive kit but you do need a decent sports bra and suitable footwear. I treated myself to new trainers when I managed 5km without stopping – incentive rewards like this will help along the way. I strongly recommend @sweatshoponline if you have one near to you are they are so knowledgeable about fitting trainers to the shape of your foot – especially if you are planning on running.

6. Expect the unexpected.

If you have your baby or child at a class with you it is likely at some point they will need to be fed / changed / entertained /taken for a walk. Be ready for this – plan feeds and naps to help you out. This may be stating the obvious but the first exercise class we went to, I spent the last 20 minutes feeding – not that easy in a sports bra as it turns out.

7. Find time.

The problem for me was still finding time, I can’t run as regularly as I did pre-baby and so I needed an alternative. I needed to be able to exercise with Rita around and so here’s what I have come up with so far…

We have tried two buggy bootcamps – @I_will_if_you at Whitefield Park and #Parklives sponsored by @cocacola at Heaton Park. They are quite different but an excellent way to start the day and feel good about yourself.

Whitefield Park is £2.50 a session and run by Tanya who is a hard task master! Although you take things at your own pace, Tanya pushes everyone to get the most from the session. Injuries or weaknesses are taken into account and exercises are modified as needs be. Babies in buggies are involved in some activities but not all and Tanya will hold / push any unsettled little ones. I am always red in the face at the end of this class and think it is a real bargain! It’s also a great way to meet other mums as it is popular. This is part of the I will if you will initiative in Bury to get women active. As a bonus this class will be moving indoors from October so the rain won’t be an excuse not to go!

#Parklives run free sessions in a variety of activities for adults, children and families in parks across Manchester (and other cities across the UK). They are all free and the first time you turn up, you get a £5 voucher for sports wear. What more could you ask for?! You can collect an extra three vouchers by bringing friends along. The Thursday morning session is run by Terri and is for post-natal women. It involves a lovely long walk around the park, with short sets of exercises along the way – the babies tend to sleep in their buggies. Terri is great and advises on injuries / weaknesses and adapts exercises accordingly. It’s an excellent workout at just the right pace.

#parklives appears to be a vastly under-used resource which people across Manchester should tap into – not least of all because it is free! You can see the timetables for all activities in all parks here http://www.parklives.com

@totalfitness gyms are very accommodating of parents with young children and babies – worth checking out if you have one in your area. They usually have a family gym area where you can take children whilst you exercise. Also if you are a member at one, you can access them all.

The next class we will be starting in October is @FittogetherUK baby – a 10 week course of classes where new Mums complete exercises with babies in slings. There are other classes available – eg newborn and toddler. I have paid £60 for a course of 10 weeks which will target post natal exercises and I can take Rita along. Classes are designed specifically depending on how many weeks it is for you since labour.

We will also be going to @pramactive in coming weeks who run buggy bootcamps in Chorlton and Didsbury. This is £5 a session or you can block book for cheaper.

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Cleaning!
Cleaning the house is a great way to shoehorn some exercise into your day. Children ensure that there is always housework to be do and hoovering is a superb way to burn off calories. I have never been as houseproud as I am on mat leave – I will have the sofas covered in plastic before long!

Walking.
I have never walked so much as since having Rita. I have discovered places round the corner from my house that I didn’t know existed. Walking with the buggy or with Rita in a sling is something we try to do as regularly as possible and always helps to get her off to sleep when she is fighting nap-time.

Websites such as parenting.com offer exercises which can be done at home with babies / small children. I have not yet tried these as I feel more comfortable at the buggy Bootcamp sessions where there is someone to ask advice from – especially as I have had a weak wrist since labour.

Running buggies – this is something I am desperate to try but babies need to be at least 6 months to ensure their neck is strong enough. I will be hunting down something like the @BritaxUK BOB Revolution Pro, the @Bumbleride Indie or the less pricey @outnabout_UK nipper sport come November to get out running with Rita. Other models are available and it is easy to find reviews and advice via Google.
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Above all else – remember @thisgirlcan

Find out how Nutribullet helped with my 5-a-day as well as saving my sanity here – https://notjustritasmother.com/2015/09/25/how-nutribullet-saved-my-sanity/

Follow me on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notjustritasmother

Twitter and Instagram – @notjustrsmother

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