Among many of the challenges you’ll encounter right after having a baby is the return to your exercise routine. Pregnancy and childbirth will have no doubt put a strain on your body, and several months of not exercising regularly may feel both physically and mentally jarring for a recovering mom. But getting back in shape will help you gain the physical strength, endurance, and emotional fortitude that is crucial to taking care of a baby. Once you’re cleared by your doctor to start exercising again—and once you personally feel like your body is up to it—it’ll be safe to resume your workout routine.
Knowing that your body is still healing postpartum, take it easy and start with light exercise. Even a brief and low-intensity workout that lasts between 10 and 15 minutes can make all the difference to your overall fitness. Remember that you also don’t need to head back to the gym or start playing a sport again if you don’t feel ready yet; in fact, it may be wiser to kick off your exercise regimen from the comfort and convenience of home, or in an outdoor park where you’ll be taking your baby out for a stroll.
Ready to build strength for your motherhood journey? Grab your favorite workout tops, leggings, and sneakers and make time for exercise. Here are ten simple postpartum workouts that can be done either at home or outside with a stroller, in the company of your baby.
As far as simple exercise goes, few things beat a walk outside. You can start your new exercise regimen by walking a short distance with your new baby, enjoying the fresh air and taking in the scenery together.
To prep your arms for long hours carrying your newborn baby, you should also get some bicep curls in. Hold a light dumbell or another type of free weight in either hand and raise them until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle, all while keeping your wrists straight. You can also put the brakes on your stroller and attach a resistance band to the handle, then do bicep curls one arm after the other.
Another exercise that you can do postpartum, either on your own or using the baby stroller as an anchor, is a squat. Start with 10 to 15 squats a day—your back and core will thank you for it later!
Next, try a set or two of 10 to 15 walking lunges, taking big steps forward with each leg while bending the lunging knee. If you’re at home and have limited space, you can do several rounds of walking lunges back and forth across the room.
To strengthen your pelvic muscles and your ability control your bladder and bowels postpartum, you can also do Kegel exercises regularly. These entail squeezing your pelvic floor muscles inwards and upwards for three seconds at a time (not unlike trying to hold in your pee) and then releasing them.
Bird Dog Holds
One exercise that will help you restore your core strength and dexterity after childbirth is the bird dog hold. For this exercise, get a yoga mat, assume a quadruped position like you’re about to crawl, raise your opposite arm and leg out at the same time, and then hold the position for at least ten seconds.
Some areas of your body that you’ll depend on regularly in your life with your new baby are your lower back and hamstrings. Strengthen these by doing glute bridges, or lying flat and then gradually lifting your butt up towards the ceiling while your shoulders remain on the floor.
In the same back-to-floor position as the glute bridge, flatten your spine while gradually tilting your hips up and down. Keep your back to the floor for the duration of the exercise.
You can follow up your glute bridges and pelvic tilts with a few heel slides as well. While lying down on your exercise mat, tighten your core and slowly slide your heel toward your body until your knee achieves a 90-degree angle. Then, slowly re-extend your leg.
For added stability to your core, spine, and pelvis—all of which you’ll need for the day-to-day tasks of motherhood—finish your floor mat routine with some toe taps. Assume the same position required for glute bridges, pelvic tilts, and heel slides, lift your legs up until they look like they’re hanging from a chair while you’re sitting down, and then let one foot down so that your toes touch the floor again. Repeat with the other foot.
These ten exercises are all easy to do at home or in a bare outdoor space, and they don’t require you to be too far away from your baby. Try any of these home or stroller workouts when you’re up to doing more physical activity again, and prep yourself both physically and emotionally for a happy, healthy life with the newest addition to your family.