(For the purposes of my posts I always refer to my children by their nicknames: HJ (3 years) & Chooky (18months)
1. Get a good pram (stroller) and get walking
If you haven't been doing any fitness work (or you have recently had a baby) I suggest starting with regular walking. Walking is a great way to ease your body back into exercise. You can set your pace and gradually make it more aerobic. The fresh air and sunshine will also benefit you and your baby. Invite a friend too and make it a social event. After HJ was born I organised a walking group with some of the mothers from my community mothers group. We went for quite a few long walks together all pushing our little ones in their prams. It was a great way to get some exercise in a supportive environment as we all understood when someone had to stop to feed or settle their baby.
When I was pregnant with Chooky I bought a double pram (stroller) in preparation for when i could start walking again after she was born. It wasn't always easy - especially with a baby and a young toddler. I vividly remember Chooky screaming hysterically the first time I took her and HJ for a walk. I had to turn around and head home within minutes of leaving - it was very deflating after the effort required to get them both organised, in the pram and out the front door. It was tough but I tried again another day. It gets easier I promise, so please persist. I did and lost 7kg (15 pounds) in 3 months by regular long walks with the kids (and occasionally jogging when hubby could help babysit). If your looking for some practical tips for taking long walks or jogs with your child then I've posted some advice here.
2. Join a team
Sometimes when it's left up to us, it can be too easy to make excuses about why we can't get the exercise we need. I've found joining a team is the best way to keep motivated. Your team is relying on you, you have to turn up and you have to put in 100%. There are many different ways you can do this. Some sports are more formal than others, some are more competitive. Find something that you enjoy and something that suits you. After HJ was born I started off by joining an evening indoor soccer of an evening once a week with some girlfriends. It got me out of the house, exercising and socialising and it allowed my hubby an hour of Daddy time with our little man. I will admit, it wasn't easy leaving my new baby at home even just for that hour (even with his Daddy), but I knew I needed the exercise. When I was feeling a bit more confident and adventurous I joined an outdoor soccer team. We trained one evening a week and played on the weekend so I was able to get my family to babysit (as my husband also plays in the mens competition). I played again last season and the logistics of organising both the children and having them babysat for the few hours that I played made things a little more difficult, but my in-laws were a great help and they enjoyed the special time with their grandchildren. Soccer is fantastic exercise and I made some fantastic friends. Find a sport you enjoy and join!
3. Increase your Incidental Exercise
Incidental exercise is the exercise you do when your not actually exercising. For example, walking around your house, hanging washing on your line, gardening or playing with your children. Every little bit of movement counts and it all adds up. Start taking notice of opportunities to move and turn ordinary everyday activities into exercise. If its possible to walk somewhere rather than drive then why not?
4. Mum & Baby Fitness Classes
Baby-friendly fitness classes are becoming wildly popular at the moment and you're bound to find a personal trainer near you offering one. After HJ was born I did one course of 'Mums & Bubs' Pilates before HJ figured out how to crawl. I then had to give it up as I was spending more time chasing him around the room than doing any Pilates! It won't always be practical but while your little ones are young enough to play contently in their prams or on a blanket.
5. Exercise DVD's
These are practical because they can be done in the privacy of your own home at a time that works for you and your family. I do Yoga via DVD because our schedule just doesn't allow me time to go and do a class at the moment.
Some other suggestions that I haven't personally tried but can work well are:
- gyms with crèches
- family bike rides (toddler seats can attach to bikes)
- treadmills or home gym equipment
I hope this gives you some ideas and helps you get started on your fitness journey. All of these things can be worked into a busy family schedule without causing too much disruption to the time you spend with your family or children.
If you have enjoyed my post today then be sure to head over and follow me at www.theactivemum.com where I blog about life, fitness and ways we can look after our own well-being as well as our families.