You worked hard to stay fit during pregnancy. Despite the fatigue and bouts of nausea you pushed through to make the effort to fit exercise into your routine on most days. It was worth the strain and stress to stretch and tone your muscles before delivery day, because it helped you through the marathon of labor, giving you the stamina you needed.
Now that baby is here though, the stamina you needed for bringing your baby into the world is again needed to care for and nurture him as he grows. Who would have thought how exhausting being a mom could be? After all, there’s nothing more tiring than building a baby, but somehow, bringing up that baby may be something that saps your energy even more.
That’s why keeping fit is just as important after the birth of your baby as it was during your pregnancy. But finding the time and energy isn’t always at the top of our list of pressing things to get done.
We need to prioritize getting some physical activity every day in order to be the moms we want to be, and since baby consumes just about every waking moment we have at this time in our lives, it makes complete sense to incorporate some baby time into workout time.
Fresh air for you and for your wee one can’t be beat, so let’s put the stroller to work as a way to keep our energy up, our bodies fueled for the day, and our babies entertained.
7 Before You Get Started
As with any form of exercise whether pregnant or not, an okay from your doctor before starting is always in order. Especially since it may not have been that long ago since you gave birth. You may be feeling fantastic, but it’s always the best idea to get the opinion of your doctor who will check your blood pressure and maybe order tests to be sure your iron count and other important levels are where they should be.
If it is indeed the case that you have not seen the doctor since your baby was born, then a physical examination and an approval for fitness activity should be part of the preparation plan. You don’t want to overestimate your readiness for exercise.
Once you have received the go ahead, check your footwear. This is a pretty simple second step to preparing for your stroller workout. Good running shoes with plenty of support and that have the proper fit for your shape of foot are essential to getting the most out of your exercise session. Most stores that specialize in fitness footwear will have fully trained staff that can help you choose the best shoe for your foot.
No need to be fashionable, you can do your stroller workout in any type of attire you choose, but be sure to have the best footwear possible for comfort and remember, the right shoe will help you avoid injury.
6 Choosing The Stroller
It really doesn’t matter what type of stroller you have for the simple workouts that we’ll discuss here. Our research shows us there is no need for the top of the line jogging stroller, just make sure that the stroller you choose is strong, safe, sturdy and comfortable for you to push and for baby to enjoy the ride.
This being said, you will have to purchase a stroller that is specific for jogging if you decide to up the intensity of your workout and go the jogging route. These strollers are built for bumps and lots of movement, reducing the jolts and jars that may be felt and experienced in a regular stroller. Please note, studies show a baby younger than 8 to 12 months will not have the neck muscles to support him properly while you run, so hold off on that until your wee one is older.
For our workout, a good quality stroller is all you need. Keep in mind that if you are a person who plans on upping your activity level as baby grows, it may make sense to invest in a stroller that is built for exercise, right from the beginning.
When you are shopping for this important piece of equipment, keep the following points in mind:
- A perfectly functioning parking brake is essential.
- Many strollers now have a five point harness, just like a car seat. This is a good safety feature.
- A canopy is a must to keep baby safe from too much sun or any other weather elements you may encounter as you take your walk. Some canopies have a window that let you keep an eye on baby.
- A storage basket underneath, large enough to hold water, snacks,sunblock, and diapers will prove to be a necessity.
5 Warm Up Moves
You’re ready and baby is ready. The perfect weather is in store for the afternoon; what could be better than fresh air and sunshine?
We’re going to look at some cardio moves and some super strength training strategies but to start off, a warm up is in order. To avoid risk of injury and to minimize the aches that can surprise you the next day, take a few minutes to perform some warm up moves that will set you up for success.
Warming up the muscles, nerves and joints eases your body into exercise. Throwing your body into sudden exertion is never a good idea. Not only does a warm up prepare your muscles for work, it gets the oxygen flowing, too. The flow of oxygen allows you to work harder and benefit more from the work you are about to do.
Here is an excellent stretching warm up from Prevention Magazine:
- Lie face down on the floor (on a mat, or on the grass), legs straight.
- Keep your arms out to the side and make sure your palms are down.
- Bend the left knee, lifting up your hip in rotation so that you can put your left leg back and over the right leg.
- Touch the floor on the right side with the left leg.
- Alternate sides 8 to 10 times, holding for 2 seconds each time.
This exercise warms up your back, glutes and hamstrings.
Simple moves that we can suggest, sure to get your heart pumping, are listed here. Try these for optimum performance:
- Step from side to side while moving first one arm, and then the other in a circling motion. Do this for 30 seconds each side.
- Jog in place for 30 seconds.
- Bring your leg up in front of your body to your chest, as high as you can and as fast as you can. Watch your balance!
- Do 20 of those grade school jumping jacks. Remember those?
- Again, jog in place for 30 seconds.
- Watching your posture, do 15 squats. Don’t over do it. As you get used to this move in successive workout sessions, you can take the squat deeper.
4 Count On Some Cardio
Working out is always fun in a group, or at the very least, in pairs. You can recruit your husband; most likely he is in need of some fitness follow up too now that he’s a new dad. Parenting is tiring for both mom and dad, so on the occasion that you would like some company, bring dad along so he can reap the benefits, too. Togetherness is a bonus to boot.
If dad has his workout time lined up with his guy friends, seek out a strength training group designed just for moms. Lisa Druxman, founder of the ever popular Fit4Mom movement has branches of her Stroller Strides fitness classes all over the country.
Designed to get like-minded moms together for fun and fresh air, a group like this can help you build friendships with other new moms. Some of the cardio moves that she has suggested for her groups are as follows:
- As you power walk for 5 to 10 minutes, be aware of your posture. Don’t curve your back as you push the stroller; instead, keep your shoulders down and your back straight.
- Take large strides and walk at a fast pace.
- After 10 minutes of power walking, do some lunges with this technique. Place your arms on the handlebars and lunge forward as your push the stroller out in front, stretching your arms straight. Alternate legs.
- Watch your stance - your leg should be parallel to the ground and your knees need to be above your ankles.
- Next, do push ups on a park bench.
- Power walk again for 5 to 10 minutes.
A variation from the power walk is interval training, whereby you walk very fast for a few minutes, then at a normal pace, going back to a fast walk, alternating as you feel comfortable. Walking uphill builds your pectoral muscles so be sure to include that in your workout.
3 Don’t Forget Toning Exercises
For that all over good feeling, you’ve got to include a bit of toning. You will definitely slim down every time you stroll with baby in tow, and adding a bit of direction for those muscles is icing on the cake. For certain, your arms are going to see some definition with all of the stroller maneuvering you will be doing, but adding exercises that target specific muscles is a good idea.
For example, as you walk along, use one arm to push the stroller while you do arm curls with the other. You can use your water bottle for a bit of extra weight.
Doing calf raises is a move that can be done anywhere. If you have made a pit stop because a passer by wants to admire your baby, you can use the time wisely and continue your workout with with reps of 15 calf raises, stopping for 30 seconds in between sets. If you are near a set of stairs, do the raises there and feel the extra stretch benefit you get from doing so.
Remember to converse with your baby as you work and walk; even though you’re exerting yourself you should be able to talk or sing to your child without straining yourself. Part of the reason for doing a stroller workout is for the mommy baby time that you will enjoy without giving up on exercise.
2 Don’t Let The Weather Stop You
Whether you are working out on your own or have found a group like Baby Boot Camp, and once you have incorporated a stroller workout into your daily routine, you will really notice the empty space in your day if you have to miss the occasional session.
If baby is sick, or your day is full of appointments you may have to miss a power walk with the stroller. We can bet that your baby will miss it as much as you do. Weather should never be a factor, though. Unless it is pouring rain, you can do a stroller workout in basically any form of weather. Either you bundle up or dress down depending on the temperature.
Don’t forget the always available venue of the shopping mall for workouts on rainy days. Even when stores are not yet open, the malls often are and it is very easy to get a great stroller workout under your belt before the shopping crowds arrive.
Just be sure to have the essentials (water, diapers, baby wipes) with you at all times, and a power walk will be possible anywhere, anytime.
If you can’t get out at all due to dangerous road conditions or a sick child at home you can still use the stroller for exercise. Use the at home atmosphere to do abdominal exercises. Try another one of Lisa Druxman’s favorites, the stroller reverse curl.
- Lay on your back, on your exercise mat in front of the stroller wheel.
- Put your hands over your head to grip the wheel behind you.
- Slowly lift your legs towards you, up in the air as you contract your abs.
- With this motion you can also do a slight pelvic tilt, tightening your abdominal muscles as you bring your feet and legs up in the curl.
1 Tips for Success
In order to be successful in any training routine, the tips and rules are basically always the same. The number one rule of thumb, always drink plenty of water in order to avoid dehydration and dizziness, especially on warm days.
Never skimp on the warm up and cool down exercises. If you’re short on time, then shorten the intense portion of the exercise. You cannot miss your warm up or cool down because you risk injury if you do, and then you won’t be able to exercise at all.
Set reasonable goals and don’t feel as though you have to strain yourself in order to receive exercise benefits. The saying, “no pain, no gain” does not hold true with a stroller workout.
Vary your routine by doing a brisk walk through the park one day, and on other occasions doing intervals of flat terrain and hills. Exercise during a part of the day when you know you have the most energy; this will give you the motivation you need to succeed and have fun at the same time.