In order to stay in good physical shape, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a minimum of 20 minutes of moderate physical activity per day, plus strength training twice a week. For a mother with a baby, that seems completely unrealistic.
While I do my best to get out of the house for a 30-minute jog three times a week, it doesn’t always happen. And according to the CDC, even that’s not enough!
So, how does a busy mami with a baby sneak in her exercise? Here’s what works for me:
Take advantage of nap time. After my girls go down for their nap, it’s tempting to turn on the television and zone out for a while (at least until they start crying for me to come get them). But before that, I do some stretching, crunches, push-ups, jumping jacks or whatever I’m in the mood for. Usually, after moving my body for a few minutes, I’m ready to take on a task instead of wasting precious naptime in front of the TV!
Make it family time. Many mornings, my youngest will settle back to sleep for an extra hour while it’s just me and the toddler. I let her pick out an exercise DVD and we work out together!
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Multi-task. My four-month-old is often soothed to sleep by being swaddled and held while I bounce on a yoga ball. I’m not complaining!
Get outside. We have a big dog that needs to be walked a few times a day. But even if we didn’t, we’d still go for walks outside. We need the sunshine and fresh air and it can even help a small baby get her circadian rhythm in sync with the rest of the world’s. I use a wrap or carrier and wear the baby while walking the dog. Everybody benefits!
Sex counts too. Seriously! It can be challenging to re-establish a sex life with your partner after having a baby, but perhaps thinking of it as a little cardio will help!
The demands placed on mothers are pretty outlandish and some days, a minimum 20 minutes of exercise may seem completely unattainable. And that’s okay. Just do your best and try to squeeze in as much as you can. As with most strategies on the path to wellness, every little bit helps.