So you’ve been trying to be more active since having your little one.
You see others do it. And it seems like everyone makes it look so easy.
But for some reason, success keeps eluding you. Every time you get close to exercising regularly, your baby goes through a leap or has their vaccinations and you end up back where you started.
Not this time.
Because this time you’re going to be armed with the same tips and tricks that top personal trainers use. So give these tips a try and see if they work for you too…
- Tip 1: Work out your why
Knowing your why will help you make the right choice when you are given two options. For me it goes something like this –
Why do I want to be more active? Because I want to lose some weight and have more energy
Why? Because I want to be the best version of myself in terms of health, energy levels, happiness and confidence
Why? Because I want to increase my healthspan
Why? Because I love my children and I want to be there for them for as long as possible.
Now instead of some vague reason of looking better I know I need to be active in order to be living a great life surrounded by my children for as long as possible. With your why figured out you can then move on to the next tip.
- Tip 2: Create your goals and make a plan
Set SMART (Specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time defined) goals. Once this is done figure out how you are going to get there.
NOTE: Its easy to get carried away and think that going to the gym 6 days a week is a good goal and if that is what you prioritise then of course anyone can do that, but perhaps that isn’t what is needed. If you want to increase your energy levels, begin to re-engage and strengthen your core and just generally feel more like ‘you’, doing short workouts with your baby is perhaps all you need.
- Tip 3: Avoid driving or catching a bus when travelling less than a mile
You won’t get sweaty from the walk but it will give you a nice healthy glow for when you get there. Listen to a podcast or Spotify, my favourite person to listen to at the moment for a relaxing walk is Snatam Kaur – she is amazing!
- Tip 4: Don’t use lifts
We all know this one but its an easy one that doesn’t take anymore time than waiting for the lift (caveat- unless you are at the Eiffel Tower!).
- Tip 5: Do workout while watching tv
This is an easy one to do, stand up and just do it! Whether your baby is asleep or not, you can do this, they love the movement and it is great to let them growing up seeing people around them being active.
Example – here is a workout you can do right now without any equipment.
- Tip 6: Stretch while watching tv
Sometimes a workout is just too exhausting to even think about, in which case do some gentle stretching. It increases blood flow to your muscles, calms the mind and heals and prevents those aches and pains (think back pain from carrying the baby!).
- Tip 7: Let your little one join you on the bike!
Cycling is an efficient way to get around, it keeps you active, free once you have a bike plus you can make all the vitamin D you need! I know this is controversial and some people say they don’t feel safe but depending on where you live (I can vouch for London), there are cycle routes and quietways which link quiet roads together so you can travel around London while minimising your contact with cars and without travelling on smelly polluted roads (to find out more about London’s quietways, click here).
- Tip 8: Combine your to do list with being active
This could mean walking rather than driving to supermarket to pick up some groceries or wearing your baby in a sling while running errands. It will make you feel great- for the exercise, for getting things done and for being so efficient!
- Tip 9: Reconsider your diet
Is it working for you? I have always been a big believer of ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ but a year ago I realised, for me personally I feel much better if I don’t have breakfast then have my first meal at lunch. Could a small change make you feel much better?
- Tip 10: Be sure to plan and prep for your workouts
Bonus tip – Schedule someone to swoon over your baby and choose a fun exercise to do – such as running, cycling, climbing or swimming. Get everything ready so you can get going without having to think about it. Removing those small barriers will reduce the risk of talking yourself out of it!
- Tip 11: But never be afraid to mix up your workouts
WARNING – Don’t see changing a plan as an automatic fail, the plan just isn’t working. Perhaps you had planned to go to the gym 2 times a week during your maternity leave but it turns out babies are pretty time consuming, changing to short 15 minute workouts, 5 times a week will achieve more because you will actually stick to it – check out the Mama Plan for short, easy to fit in workouts.
- Tip 12: Take the first step without worrying about the results
The hardest step is the first step. If its been a while since you have been active, take it one step at a time. Try walking a bit faster to get your heart pumping a bit faster, or ditch the gym and workout at home in your pjs!
- Tip 13: Try a new sport or exercise class
Ever fancied flying through the air on the trapeze or giving pole dancing a spin? Now is your time!
- Tip 14: Do something (anything!) while you are boiling the kettle
Star jumps, squats, incline press ups, one leg balances, standing crunches, lunges, kegels – anything goes! And this leads us on nicely to the next tip….
- Tip 15: Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine
Raising your heart rate for just 10 minutes can release endorphins and boost your mood instantly. In the long term, increasing your physical activity can improve your sleep (find me a new Mama who doesn’t want to do this!!) and reduce your risk of developing depression, dementia, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, strokes and some cancers (read more).
- Tip 16: Allow yourself to have fun – play isn’t just for children!
Dust off your roller blades, sign up to a martial arts class, play frisbee or go to a trampoline class. Exercise doesn’t have to be all about running and circuits.
- Tip 17: Doing your household chores with conviction
Pick up the pace and it will get your heart pumping which counts towards you 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week as recommended by the NHS.
- Tip 18: Go for a walk – on your own, with your baby, friends or family
Channel your lockdown self and grab someone and go for a walk.
- Tip 19: Turn up your favourite song and have a dance in your bedroom
What better way to make your self feel better, be it before a night out or at the end of a long day.
- Tip 20: Do some weeding or gardening
Gardening is what some people in Blue Zones literally put their longevity down to. Its great for your physical health as well as your mental health and your baby will enjoy it too!
- Tip 21: Spend more time with your significant other
Sex increases your heart rate, makes you feel more connected and decreases stress levels- win win win!
- Tip 22: Walk around while catching up with a friend on the phone
Pretty self explanatory and very easy to do.
- Tip 23: Use a fitness tracker
Fitbit, Garmin, Apple watch- whatever you use to track your activity, you can set yourself challenges seeing if you can be more active than the previous day for a week, or make sure you do your 10k steps a day for a month.
- Tip 24: Sign up to a challenge
Be it a parkrun, 10k, a tough mudder or a marathon. It will give you some motivation and focus.
- Tip 25: Be kind to yourself
Ultimately, you need to work out what your ideal amount of physical activity is and then figure out your ‘Plan of Action’. For an aspiring Olympian, that might be going to the gym 6 times a week but for someone looking to be healthy and active, their ideal may not involve the gym at all and that is ok!
Being more active (even with a newborn) is actually fairly simple when you apply the above 25 tips. So let me leave you with one last tip…
Take action right now – jump up and do 10 squats or star jumps. Or if your are reading this while breastfeeding or nap trapped do 10 kegels. Make this the start of something and when you look back you will be so glad you took that first step!