How to keep active: A guide for new parents
Becoming a new parent is hard, but it's important to find ways to stay active. Here are some tips on how to make it happen.
It’s recommended that the average person gets at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. If you’re a new parent, this might sound impossible when all your free time goes toward caring for your baby. However, it’s important to try and balance some physical activity within your daily life - exercise not only keeps us physically fit but is also a great way to destress.
We’ve compiled some ways to keep active even with a newborn to take into account.
How important is physical activity?
Keeping active can have positive effects on both your physical and mental health, especially while you’re still coming to terms with what it means to be a new parent. It’s important to try and fit physical activity into your schedule, although it’s understandable if you can’t do half an hour every day.
Physical activity helps prevent issues such as diabetes and heart disease, maintains healthy body weight and is great for the mind (your body releases lots of lovely endorphins when you get your heart rate up).
What if you want to exercise alone?
Needing time to exercise by yourself doesn’t make you a bad parent. Taking some time alone means you can return to your baby afterwards feeling fresh and energised.
If you have trusted friends or family, see if they’d be willing to watch your baby while you exercise. Whether you’re leaving the house to exercise or you’re doing an activity at home, it’s important that you’re comfortable in your space and can dedicate yourself to your workout.
There are also other options for childcare if you don’t have someone to look after your baby. Many gyms offer childcare services alongside memberships so that you can carry out your workout routine with your child just around the corner. It’s not uncommon for parents to experience separation anxiety when away from their children, so this is a great way to keep your child close while exercising solo.
The most important thing when wanting to exercise by yourself is to plan your time well. If you just think I’ll get to it when I get to it, you’ll probably find that all of your spare time slips away from you and you never do get to it. Try and block out half an hour every couple of days for that much-needed exercise to keep your body and mind happy and healthy.
What if you don’t want to leave your baby behind?
Keeping active with your baby helps strengthen your bond while also ensuring you don’t have any anxieties about leaving your child with someone else. There are various exercises you can try with different levels of intensity.
Although it may be overlooked, walking is one of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways to keep active. Whether you prefer to bring your baby in a pushchair, a sling, or just in your arms, walking is a great opportunity for you to get some exercise while also giving your baby outside stimulation.
Depending on whether your baby can sit up unaided (this could be between 6 and 9 months) you can try a bicycle ride to get your muscles moving, with your child strapped into a bicycle seat. If you’re worried about the possible risks of cycling with your baby, you could always find a local park to cycle within, away from any traffic or bustle.
There’s also a huge range of resources online for exercises you can do at home with your baby. Video exercise tutorials are a fantastically easy and accessible method. Child-friendly versions of activities such as yoga, pilates and cardio are all available online (although you should be able to hold a conversation while exercising postpartum, so keep this in mind when selecting the intensity of your workout). Yoga is especially good if you’re recovering from birth as it’s less strenuous and can help with strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.
You can also think about your baby’s involvement in the exercise - do you want them to just be in the room, by your hands or feet? Or perhaps you’d like them to be more involved - you could carry them while you exercise, especially with activities like walking around the park. Skin to skin contact is a fantastic way to bond and can be incorporated easily. There are so many ways to exercise with your baby, so whatever you choose will be what’s best suited for you and your child’s needs.
Final thoughts from Kinhub
Exercise is a huge part of your general wellbeing. While it’s important, not everyone enjoys it, so it’s key that you consider what form of exercise works best for you (and your baby, if you’d like them to be involved with you). We hope some of these methods of activity will inspire you to get your blood pumping as you navigate life as a new parent.