Feeling tired, overwhelmed, insecure or downright exhausted after pregnancy are all valid reasons to avoid getting (back) on the exercise train. After all, the thought of punishing ourselves with copious amounts of crunches in hopes of regaining some assemblance of a waistline sounds like the opposite of fun, right?
While it may seem like the last thing on your mind, there are far too many benefits from exercising postpartum to ignore. Aside from getting back into your skinny jeans, getting active promotes cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and toning, can boost your energy level, improve your mood, relieve stress and help combat postpartum depression. According to Dr. Pam in her blog Five tips to avoid exhaustion and low mood postpartum, 20 minutes of brisk exercise releases serotonin (our “happy hormone”) similar to the effects that Prozac has on our brains and produces increased endorphins and mood enhancing neurotransmitters.
The key is to start slowly, listen to your body and find something you enjoy.
We asked personal trainer and fitness expert Megan Tank how to start (or get back into) exercise postpartum. Here’s what she suggested:
- Running is a great way to burn calories and you don't have to train for a marathon to reap the benefits. See this blog about running for tips and training ideas.
- Other great cardio exercises that can help you get into shape include skipping (join in with your kids), swimming, rowing, biking or stairs. As these alternate exercises burn fewer calories than running you may have to do the activity for a little bit longer.
- Interval training is also a great way to amp up your calorie burn if you have a short amount of time. Interval training consists of doing a chosen activity at a high intensity for a period of time, followed by a low intensity for a period of time. The intensity depends on your fitness level. Start out by doing 1:1 ratio that is one minute at a slower rate (you should be able to talk) then one minute at a faster pace (unable to talk). Do this for 10 minutes to start and you will be surprised how many calories you can burn.
If you prefer a calmer approach to your fitness, Dr. Pam suggests a Mommy & me yoga class. Yoga is gentle and can help rebuild much-needed core and pelvic floor strength after birth! Other fitness activities you may want to consider trying are Pilates, barre and zumba classes.
While most healthcare professionals will give their ok to begin exercising six weeks postpartum, it is always recommended that you consult your heathcare provider about what’s best for you. For more about exercise postpartum, read this Q&A from Dr. Pam.
Megan is an experienced personal trainer and has worked closely with physiotherapists to assist clients with rehabilitation. Megan has a degree in Kinesiology and obtained her 200hr Yoga Teacher Training from Open Source Yoga. Her broad range of experience and holistic approach to living a healthy lifestyle helps clients achieve their health and fitness goals.
Megan is passionate about helping people find the type of physical exercise they like to do. She believes that this inspires a new mindset and encourages people make time for the type of physical activities they enjoy. Working out doesn't always mean joining a gym - - and many things can be done at home, outside or at work! Megan has creative ways of training clients outside of fitness facilities, with little or no equipment. She has developed gentle, moderate and intensive training sessions to suit the specific needs of her clients, including those of us with rigid time constraints.
Megan is focused on ensuring clients have proper form when exercising to prevent injury and help them get the most out of the exercise. She brings a balanced approach to nutrition and fitness, including clean eating, moderation and working the right muscle groups for best results. Her workout sessions that integrate strength, cardiovascular fitness, core strength and flexibility into singular exercises for several muscles have proven to be very effective for her clients.