Having a baby is quite the feat. If you recently became a mama, you know all too well that your body has undergone rapid changes to accomplish the amazing feats of pregnancy, delivery, and caring for a new little one!
In the wonderful, emotional, and exciting time following the birth of your child, you have a lot going on. However, making time for self-care is always important.
As a new mama, your you-time might take many forms: taking time for yourself to rest and recharge, eating nutritious, yummy meals and staying hydrated, or snuggling up with a good book.
Adding exercise to your daily routine is a great way to take time for yourself and care for your body. Making time to move and stay healthy is an act of self-love that has far-reaching positive effects. Exercise is shown to improve not only your physical health but your mental well-being, too!
Of course, making time to exercise is often easier said than done. We know you’re a busy mama, and that’s why we’ve compiled this list of quick-and-easy, mom-friendly exercises!
You might do sets of all of these exercises together or simply pick and choose the exercises from this list that make sense for your body and schedule. Get ready for the Quintessential Busy Mom Workout!
First: Make Sure You’re Cleared To Exercise
After an intense physical event like childbirth, your body will certainly need time to heal. Before you get ready to start working out again, make sure to consult your doctor or midwife to get the all-clear.
For most women, it will take at least six to eight weeks before they are ready to return to exercise after delivery. However, every woman and every birth is different. Listen to your body, and take all the time you need.
Progressing Safely With Your Workout
When you choose to begin exercising again, make sure to go slowly. Add one new activity to your workout regimen at a time. Though it may feel frustrating, you should try to avoid doing too much too soon. Listen to your body to avoid overwhelming your system and causing injury – remember, if something feels like too much, it probably is.
Stop while you’re ahead, and try again tomorrow. You’ll find yourself more capable with every training session with dedicated practice!
Alright Mama, Let’s Get Moving!
Remember that you can choose from the list of activities below to craft a workout unique to your body, schedule, and health goals. Don’t worry if you can’t complete the whole workout right off the bat! Any effort is something to be proud of and progress over time.
Choose from the activities below to create your very own Busy Mom Workout.
It’s always a good idea to begin a workout with a warm-up, which helps to prepare your circulatory and muscular systems for the exercises to come. Properly warming up and cooling down is an essential part of any workout and can help you avoid muscle soreness and even evade injury.
Some light cardio is a great way to warm up, activate your muscles, and get your blood flowing.
Ideas for Warm-Up Activities
- Take a walk around the block: Bundle your little ones into the stroller for some added arm strengthening!
- Walk up and down a flight of stairs: This won’t take long to get your blood pumping!
- A ten-minute light jog: Don't be intimidated if you’re new to running. It can be easier to run for time rather than distance when you're just starting out. For example, try setting a five-minute timer on your phone at the beginning of your run. Turn around and retrace your steps when it goes off, and you’ll have completed ten minutes of running!
- Jumping Jacks, Burpees, or Mountain Climbers: These activities are great for small spaces or cold days.
The abdominal muscles are important for many day-to-day activities. Keeping them strong and engaged is important, especially after having a baby. Pregnancy can cause a weakening of the abdominal muscles as your belly grows and shrinks.
Many women notice abdominal discomfort or weakness in the months, or even years, following the birth of their child. This can lead to dangerous conditions, like a hernia. Therefore, as a mom, it’s worth the extra effort to spend time strengthening your core.
Ideas for Core Strengthening Elements
- Deep Breathing: It sounds simple, but don’t underestimate the value of proper deep breathing. Towards the end of your pregnancy, after the 30-week mark or so, you may have noticed shortness of breath or the uncomfortable sensation of not being able to breathe deeply. This is a perfectly natural phenomenon, though it may feel uncomfortable. During pregnancy, the growing uterus presses on the diaphragm muscles and lungs, changing how you breathe. Once your baby is born, practicing deep breathing is important to begin strengthening your deep core muscles and regain a normal breath pattern.
To practice deep breathing, simply lay on the floor on your back in a relaxed position. Inhale deeply through your nose, being mindful of the breath filling your lungs all the way into your belly. Hold for one second, then release the air through your mouth. Repeat.
- Alternating Single-Leg Lifts: Lie on your back with your legs straight. Engage your core, and slowly lift one leg while keeping it extended as straight as possible until your leg is at a 90-degree angle to the rest of your body. Hold for one second; then, begin to lower your leg. At the same time, lift your other leg until it is raised above you. Continue alternating legs, keeping your core engaged.
- Planks: Reserve these exercises until you have regained some core strength. Planks are a great way to fully engage your body. Begin in a push-up position on a yoga mat, and press forward to straighten your arms, keeping your core engaged and body aligned. Hold this position for increasing durations as you get stronger: try beginning with 30 seconds and working your way up to two minutes.
For an easier variation on the plank, try beginning from a knee push-up position.
Chances are, your arms are already tired from holding your baby. For such tiny humans, they sure do seem heavy after a little while! Doing a few arm exercises can keep your arms toned, reduce stiffness, and will make it easier to keep holding your little ones as they grow and grow.
Ideas for Arm Strengthening Exercises
- Arm Circles: To tone several arm muscle groups at once, begin standing with your arms extended straight out to either side. Then, begin to make tight, controlled circular movements with your arms, as if each hand is following the tip of a watch-arm. Move your arms as quickly as you can while maintaining control over your movements, and you will begin to feel a burn.
- Bicep Curls: The idea that you must own a set of weights to do strength-training exercises is a myth (and a convenient excuse to get out of toning your arms!). We know you’ve got something around the house that would make a good barbell – try a can of beans, a bottle of shampoo, or even a heavy book. To do a bicep curl, begin standing straight, with your arm by your side, palm-side forward and holding your makeshift barbell. Slowly raise your hand towards your shoulder, engaging your bicep, then lower your hand. Repeat.
- Tricep Curls: Holding the same weight you chose for your bicep curls, stand bent at the waist, with your back straight and arm extended back parallel to the floor, straight from your shoulder to hip. Slowly bend your arm at the elbow to bring your hand towards the floor in an arc; then, engage your tricep, and bring your arm back to straight. Repeat.
Legs and Glutes
Don’t skip leg day, mama! Strengthening your lower body is very important, especially after pregnancy, which in the later months may have made it difficult to stay active. Maintaining a strong lower body is key to balance, endurance, and chasing after a toddler. The following lower-body exercises are great to incorporate into your daily routine.
Ideas for Lower Body Exercises
- Calf Raises and Dips: These exercises tone an often-forgotten body region: your lower legs. To do a calf raise, simply stand straight with good posture and slowly rise up onto your toes. Hold for a second, then sink back slowly to a neutral standing position. To do a calf dip, begin standing on your toes at the edge of a stair. Slowly, and holding onto the railing for balance, sink down, dropping your heels below your toes. Hold, then raise yourself back up on your toes, and repeat.
- Squats: These are tried-and-true lower body exercises that engage your core, glutes, and legs. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and engage your core to keep your body straight-up-and-down: your shoulders should be stacked evenly with feet apart.
Then, keeping your knees above your ankles, sink down into a seated position, inclining your core to retain balance. When your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, return slowly to standing. Repeat.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
One exercise that is particularly important for women who have had children is pelvic floor strengthening. What is the pelvic floor, you wonder? This group of muscles is found between the tailbone and pubic bone and is essential for supporting the organs of the pelvic region, including the bladder, uterus, and intestines.
Pregnancy and delivery may lead to weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. This can have adverse effects such as incontinence or hemorrhoids. Therefore, it is worthwhile to learn how to exercise the pelvic floor to maintain your health.
Stretch and Cool Down
Congratulations, super mom – your workout is complete! Now is a good time to thoroughly stretch all of your muscles and take a minute to wind down.
Consider doing a calming guided meditation or relaxing yoga flow if you have time. Otherwise, at least take a few minutes to relax and appreciate the hard work you’ve done for your body!
Practicing Self Care As a Mom
Getting a workout into your busy schedule is an important way to care for your body and will help you feel grounded even as you get back into the busy rhythm of life.
Though it can be challenging to find the time, your mind and body will thank you for putting in the effort to exercise. It’s rewarding to find other ways to care for yourself, too – such as eating healthy and staying hydrated.
As you work out, you lose a lot of water in your sweat and breath. This makes staying hydrated of the utmost importance. For health-conscious moms, an all-natural, electrolyte-enhanced hydration drink can be a great accompaniment to a workout.
Make Greater Than Part of Your Busy Mom Routine
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It’s important to keep physical activity a part of your life, especially as a mother! However, sometimes committing to a lengthy workout is easier said than done with a family to care for.
We know you’re busy, and that’s why we made this workout routine as flexible as can be.
Choose the exercises that work for you, move at your own pace, and most importantly, enjoy the time you spend exercising!