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Post-Natal Fitness: Part 2

By Bette Williams, RN, BSN, CCE, CPFI, CIME, CBC

As a mother, I know parents want only the best for their children. We envision them leading long, healthy, happy lives. But in addition to dreaming about the future (and possible grandchildren), we have to remember to live in the now. The foundation for our baby’s long, healthy, happy life starts with us and the habits we establish in them from the very beginning. Each day, we must choose to live a healthy lifestyle, and exercise is an important part of that.

In the last article, I talked about the cardiovascular portion of your workout, and as promised, I’ll now discuss the strengthening and stretching aspects, as well as more ways to work baby into your fitness regime. Not all of us are lucky enough to have a membership to a gym; fortunately, strengthening and stretching exercises can easily be done at home (always remember get your doctor’s approval before beginning any exercise program). The following exercises include baby, but there are a few safety guidelines to be considered before bringing them into your exercise program:

• If your baby can’t hold her head up yet, remember you must support it for her.
Very young infants may be too weak, startle easily, or become too stimulated to participate.
Never use weights around a baby. Choose exercise bands for safer strength building. Remember, however, even these have risks, so become familiar with their proper use.
Never compromise your form just because you’re holding baby. If your form is deteriorating because of fatigue, stop. You’ll get more benefit from fewer quality repetitions than many incorrect repetitions.
Never hold baby while engaging in high impact activities.

PUSH-UPS: Place baby on the floor and get down on your hands and knees so your face is above his. Lower yourself down and kiss his nose, then push yourself back up. Start with one set of 8-12 repetitions and build from there. For even more challenge, move your knees farther back or go all the way up onto your toes.

CURL-UPS: Lie on your back with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle so that your feet are flat on the floor. Rest baby on your lower abdomen so she is leaning back against your thighs for support. Hold her securely under the arms. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor until you reach a 45 degree angle. Slowly release back to the floor. Start with one set of 15-20 repetitions and build from there. For even more challenge, try to give baby a kiss each time.

BACK & FORTH: While lying on your back, bend your knees to your chest. Place baby onto your shins and hold his hands. Slowly extend your legs from your chest until your knees are at a 90 degree angle and your legs are parallel to the floor. Return to the starting position. Start with one set of 15-20 and build from there. For even more challenge, hold the extension part of the exercise for a five count.

WEIGHTED LEGS: Sit on the edge of a chair with both knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place baby on one shin, hold her hands, and straighten the leg. Repeat 8-15 times, then switch legs. For even more challenge, straighten your leg for a five count.

It is important to stretch before and after exercising to avoid injury and delayed onset muscle soreness. Make sure your muscles are warm before stretching; if not, a five minute walk will do the trick. Stretch only to the point of gentle tightness and hold for 15-30 seconds to get the maximum benefit. Stretching should be smooth rather than jerky, and remember to breathe normally.

If you make a habit of including your baby in your exercise program, then it will be natural to continue to include him as he grows, creating many wonderful memories and healthy habits that will last him a lifetime.

For more information on post-natal exercise, call 463-0022 today!