Sometimes, the last thing a new parent wants to do is exercise. Between sleep deprivation, taking care of a little one’s every need and trying to keep up with the demands of everyday life, staying fit can take a backseat. But, getting moving doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. Really! Read for some tricks to finding the time and motivation to get into (or back into) exercise.
1. Start slowly and gently.
Even people who had the most rigorous exercise routines before having a baby may have a hard time getting back in the habit. It can be even more challenging if you've never exercised regularly to begin with. No matter which category you fall into, there is no shame in starting off slowly and being kind to yourself. In fact, it's better for your body. Starting off with gentle yoga, stretching or a few walks around the block can be just what you need to get started. You'll be surprised how quickly you can build up from there. Scoria makes gorgeous, sustainable mats for yoga and beyond. Some of their mats are an extra-thick 6mm cork, which helps ensure that knees and elbows don't get sore. Add a cork roller (shown above) for backs aching from carrying a baby. Or, try the company's unique Illuminate Cork Yoga Wheel for even more ways for stretching all the muscles that are getting used in new ways with a new baby.
2. Get comfortable.
A lack of the “right” gear should not prevent you from getting in shape, but upgrading a few key wardrobe items can make a big difference in whether or not you stick with an exercise routine. Even going for a brisk walk will be more tolerable with the right footwear. This is even more important for jogging or other intense exercises. Brooks Running Shoes have a variety of lightweight and cute styles, such as Launch 8, that will keep you walking longer. Add some Swiftwick socks with extra cushioning to keep you moving longer—and to help absorb some extra weight if you're walking with baby in a carrier.
3. Bring the baby along.
Many new parents don’t have the luxury of leaving their little one behind while they exercise. No problem! Grab a sturdy baby carrier like the LÍLLÉbaby Pursuit Sport and bring the baby along for long walks or light exercise classes. The extra weight of the baby will help you work out that much harder! Or, make sure baby is safe and comfortable in a rugged stroller made for running. The BOB Gear Alterrain Pro Jogging Stroller is a great choice with features like a one-handed fold, reflective trim, oversized basket, advanced suspension for a smooth ride, and all-weather canopy that protects your child against wind and rain. And if you need to socially distance, be sure you have the right mask for the job! The Nathan Run Safe Face Mask straps around your head so it won’t slip when you're moving fast. It also has an opening that can be used for a quick breath of fresh air or taking a sip of water.
4. If you have a toddler, get them involved.
Some new parents exercise while the baby sleeps. This is a great approach, but it may not work as well if you also have a toddler underfoot. Luckily, there are fun ways to exercise with toddlers. The Chi Yoga Mat comes in parent and kid sizes with colorful markings to show where arms and legs should go for everything from child’s pose to downward dog. Or, get a JumpSport Trampoline that is sturdy enough for serious exercise but can also withstand an active toddler. First take your turn, and then let your little one take theirs when the baby wakes up.
5. Track your progress.
Tracking your progress can provide much-needed motivation to get (and keep!) moving. Wearing a health and fitness smartwatch like the Fitbit can motivate you to get steps in, walk a little faster to keep their heart rates up, and get lots of information to assess overall health. New parents will also appreciate reminders to get up and walk to stay on track throughout the day and to be able to track your sleep.
6. Dress for success.
Working out as a new mom can be daunting. Old workout clothes may not fit quite the same way, and you may experience some urinary leaks. Thinx Leak Resistant Underwear and leggings are helpful for moms who leak a little while working out and for those with extra heavy postpartum periods. Pact Maternity Leggings work well for postpartum workouts as well as maternity. Cariloha workout gear is a great choice for moms who want to go right from a HIIT class to a playdate. For moms whose workouts bring them outdoors, Wondery has everything from “Made Wild” shirts to sustainably-made shorts perfect for working out in style.
7. Invest in yourself.
Make an investment in yourself. Literally. If you can swing it, investing in your health means a great return on investment, whether that means signing up for an at-home workout program online, purchasing weights or a TRX bodyweight suspension training kit, or making a larger financial investment the whole family can benefit from, like the Echelon Reflect. This next-generation way to workout uses a mirror you hang on your wall to stream high-definition workouts from yoga and stretching to Zumba, pilates and barre to strength and high-intensity HIIT classes and more. There are even family classes that parents and kids can do together. Classes stream on-demand or live and range in length from 10 to 30 minutes so it’s possible to get in a quick workout in when you're short on time. If money is tight, there are lots of free YouTube workouts designed for new moms.
8. Bike it with baby.
Another great investment is a sturdy bike you can use for everything from running errands to rides through the park. The Schwinn Sierra has features that provide more stability and traction than some similar bikes, making it a great option to pair with a child bike seat like the Thule Yepp Nexxt Maxi (shown above), which is designed for safety and comfort.
9. Be prepared.
We know you don't have much time to work out, but you can make the most of the time you do have by getting prepared. Have your workout bag packed and ready to go. Pair it with a YETI water bottle (shown above) that is sturdy, looks good and will keep your water cold to make sure you stay hydrated. Put your water bottle in the fridge at night and grab it whenever you are ready to get moving.
10. Work with your schedule.
You don’t need to spend baby’s entire nap time working out, but a quick session before doing the dishes or taking your own nap can go a long way toward making sure it gets done. If possible, working out before baby wakes up in the morning or goes to sleep at night helps you stay consistent and on track as well. If you don’t plan on working up a big sweat, there is nothing wrong with working out in your pajamas. There is no right time or right way to stay fit!
11. Motivate (and pamper) yourself.
Managing to exercise amid the chaos of being a new mom deserves a reward. For a little encouragement to exercise, choose an indulgence and tell yourself you will only partake after a workout. For some, watching a baking show or a Netflix drama might be all it takes to get moving. For others, it might mean an evening bath with a bath bomb or face mask or a decadent piece of chocolate or handmade caramels. Or it could mean driving to your favorite hiking spot for a scenic walk. Whatever gets you moving and keeps your eyes on the prize of better health and more energy.
—Jamie Davis Smith