The Benefits of Exercise for New Parents
10 min read
As a new parent, taking time out to exercise can sometimes feel intimidating, not to mention tiring.
However, exercise can actually have the opposite effect and improve energy levels. Here, we explore the many benefits of being active for you and your growing family!
As many new parents know, sometimes just getting out of the front door can be like a military operation; the various daily activities that could be done without a thought pre-baby are no longer quite so easy!
Even though exercise may not feel like a priority with a precious and new bundle of joy in your life, there are actually many advantages to establishing physical activity in your new routine!
Here at Babease, promoting a healthy lifestyle for both baby and parent is our top priority. While your little one is exploring their tastebuds with delicious baby finger foods, we take a look at the importance of exercise as a new parent in more detail, answering your top questions!
Why Exercise is Advised for New Parents
Exercise tends to be one of those things that is often considered but pushed to the side due to “I just don’t have the time” or “the baby’s routine just won’t allow for ‘me time’” scenarios.
However, the NHS recommends exercise to all adults and children to help improve an individual’s overall physical fitness, as well as boosting general energy levels.
As a new parent, it’s can contribute to your general wellbeing and is used to support the body in its recovery after childbirth. The NHS also endorses exercise to prevent postnatal depression.
The Advantages of Exercise for New Parent’s Mental Health
A significant part of regular exercise is its positive impact on mental health and wellbeing. Becoming a new parent brings many changes, and while these are precious, regular exercise can also help you manage emotional challenges that can occur with such lifestyle transformations.
Exercise is known to maintain and improve feelings of wellbeing due to chemical changes that occur in our brains when and after doing physical activity.
These include the increase of hormones such as:
- Various endorphins
Not only is this integral to our personal health, but it also helps to promote a healthy bond between mother and baby.
Feelings of Social Isolation
Physical activity can also help with feelings of isolation. Getting out in the open is a great way to feel refreshed.
If you feel like you need a little more social interaction, mother and baby exercise groups can also help new parents socialise and meet other parents while focusing on fitness.
Advantages of Exercise for New Parent’s Physical Health
Light exercise as a new parent has many benefits for your body. It is a key aspect of accelerated post-birth recovery.
Don’t overlook the impact of a simple walk, as it is a fundamental way to help slowly rebuild muscle strength and improve your overall cardiovascular endurance. It also helps to firm the body postpartum.
What to Expect of Your Body Post-Birth
It is worth mentioning that as you try gentle exercise post-birth, your abdominal muscles and lower back may not be as strong as they once were.
Hormonal changes during your pregnancy can also affect your joints and ligaments' flexibility and suppleness. It is essential to be aware of this because you can become prone to injury if over stretching.
Try not to have too high an expectation for yourself and ensure you aim for realistic, and safe, goals.
Improving Your Energy Levels Post-Childbirth
Having a new ‘mini-me’ in your life is one of the biggest blessings. However, with a significant lifestyle change and higher energy demand, exercise will help you will reap both individual and family benefits.
Not only does exercise help to decrease feelings of stress, but it can also help to promote better sleep. This is a massive advantage for new parents and helps to ensure that all healthy emotions are channelled into family life with reduced feelings of tiredness, stress and irritation.
As you incorporate more exercise into your new routine, you will most likely feel your energy levels increase. Having a sedentary lifestyle only increases tiredness, and while napping can help when deprived of sleep, exercise is one of the most effective ways of improving your energy levels.
More exercise means you will have more energy long-term to complete your responsibilities as a new parent while also feeling good about yourself!
How Much Exercise Should a New Parent Aim For?
According to Public Health England, a healthy amount of exercise for the average adult per week is a minimum of 150 minutes at a moderately intense level.
As a new parent, especially if you have recently given birth, this may not be achievable or advised. You should always check with your midwife or GP on what is most suitable for you.
The NHS advises that those who have just given birth without complications should start gentle exercise as soon as they feel ready.
This can include:
- Pelvic floor and tummy exercises
- Gentle stretching
It is suggested to wait until your 6-week postnatal check before starting more high-impact exercise, which includes sports such as running and aerobics.
Parents who previously completed regular exercise before the birth of their little one can start activity earlier. However, you must consult and confirm with your GP before you pursue any form of high-impact exercise.
Exercise After Complicated Childbirth
Those who experienced a more complicated birth with their little one, such as a caesarean, will require an extended recovery period. You will need to discuss exercise plans with either your midwife, GP or health visitor for clarification on exercising.
Exercises to Try After Giving Birth
Exercise doesn’t need to be gym-based or time-specific to be effective, and there are many fun ways of incorporating exercise into your new routine!
Start With Walking
Once you have the all-clear from your GP to start moving again, think about aiming for a daily, brisk, 30-40 minute walk with the buggy to get you on the right track.
Babease Top Tip
Put on some comfortable but supportive shoes and make sure to maintain good posture, activating your pelvic floor and core muscles to get those abdominals back in action.
As you get more used to walking, try to find somewhere with a few inclines to make it increasingly challenging.
See if you can get a few mum friends to join you and you can have a good catch up while you shape up!
Make the Most of the Indoors
Whether at home or in the fresh air, a little bit of imagination and you can get your heart rate up and your muscles warm quickly and easily. If the weather is not on your side, you can find many activities around the house.
A few trips up and down the stairs can be a great cardiovascular exercise, and if you add some squats and lunges around the kitchen or living room, you can be sure that you are making those legs and gluteal muscles work hard and gain strength.
Exercise has many long-term and short-term advantages for you and your family. Not only does it provide benefits both mentally and physically, but it also helps to promote a healthy family lifestyle.
If your little one isn’t so little anymore and beginning their journey into solid foods, you may be interested to discover more about the weaning process! If so, our guide can help to answer any questions you have as a new parent.