5 fun fitness ideas for mom and baby
Shedding excess pounds post-pregnancy may seem overwhelming, but with the right workout, it can also be a fun bonding experience. Here are five fitness activities for mom and baby to enjoy
Losing baby weight
Is there any family event quite as special as the arrival of a new baby? Whether your infant is the first, or the latest addition to your brood, this bundle of joy will have you smitten. But along with all that happiness, there also comes unwanted pregnancy pounds.
The benefits of postpartum exercise
Sandra Drygas, a certified trainer with Beaches Fitness in Toronto, specializes in pre- and postnatal well-being. A mom herself, Drygas understands the postpartum path back to fitness. “Exercise has so many benefits,” she says. “Moms come for the social aspects, because their babies sleep longer after a class, and to lose weight and tone up.” Working out also sparks the release of endorphins-feel-good brain chemicals that can help tackle the “baby blues.”
Time in the pool encourages baby to explore her natural instincts for water, while mom enjoys a low-impact routine that’s kind to her healing body. “It’s stress-free on the joints, and can be a great cardio workout,” says Drygas. Some swimming programs accept infants as young as 12 weeks of age, while others prefer your child to be five to six months. Many YWCA locations across Canada offer mom and baby sessions, or try Fit4Two‘s AquaFit classes in B.C., Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Swimming ticks all the boxes for a safe and effective workout, however, “Not all moms are comfortable getting back into a swimsuit right away, so it’s not for everyone,” says Drygas.
The easiest postpartum exercise, moms can stroll solo, or with a neighbourhood group. Raising your heart rate is key to a successful stroller-based workout. Some classes rely on jogging to achieve this goal, however in her own strollercise sessions, Drygas uses cardio bursts and wind sprints to achieve the same results. Plus, her methods don’t require fancy jogging strollers. “It all depends on the class that you sign up for,” says Drygas. And don’t worry about keeping baby occupied, she says, “It’s as easy as giving them a toy, or a snack.” Ready to roll? Type “strollercise” into Google and be spoilt for choice, or try Mommy and Baby Fitness if you live in Ontario, Alberta or Saskatchewan.
Low-impact and great for overall health, yoga stretches help us stay calm and limber, and baby gets to indulge in her favourite sport-watching Mom! To guarantee a comfortable workout, Drygas suggests breastfeeding before class. It releases the pressure from your chest, and helps ensure that baby will be content through the session. Most yoga studios across Canada include mom and baby programs. Check your local paper, go online, or ask your friends for recommendations. “Word of mouth is really the best way,” says Drygas. “If you know someone who has taken a class and enjoyed it, it’s a safe bet it’s a good class.”
“I love calisthenics,” says Drygas. “To lose weight and tone up, it is easily done.” Moms can do lunges, squats, push-ups, calf raises and many other simple, rhythmic exercises at home, or in a class. Drygas warns, however, that new moms should avoid crunches and sit-ups-moves that can do more harm than good to delicate stomach tissues. To strengthen this area, she recommends a simple motion that tightens inner muscles safely. “[Just] suck your belly button into your spine and hold,” she says. Another easy must-do? Kegels. By contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles, new moms can eliminate troublesome urinary issues. “Within a week or two [of the birth], you should be comfortable to do them while sitting on the couch breastfeeding,” says Drygas.
Babies love being pressed against Mom, and dance classes play into this important bonding time. “They’re great,” says Drygas. “They’ll get your heart rate up and burn calories.” Just make sure that you use a secure carrier-never exercise with baby in a sling. “[A] supportive carrier can be used from four weeks old,” says Drygas. Young babies should ride in carriers that support their head and allow face time with Mom, while older tots have strong enough necks to face outwards. Interested in getting your groove on? Salsa Babies operates in B.C, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. You can also search online for mom and baby dance lessons near you.