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Positive Vibes with Amara Kanu: It Is Your Body, and You Would Be Ready Only When You Say You’re Ready

Firstly, let me just say that losing weight and exercising after having a baby is difficult, even for the fittest of mums. So if you’re body and mind is telling you it’s not ready yet, it probably isn’t. Listen to your body, especially in the first 6 weeks after giving birth, and give it time to heal and adjust. From 6 weeks onwards, after you’ve had your 6 week check, you can start thinking about gentle exercises. But whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t feel ready yet.

Once you feel you can cope with the fatigue, sore muscles, and demands of feeding it’s time to start exercising again.

Studies have shown that new mums who exercise: feel better, sleep better and are generally more calm and rested. So, try out these easy and effective body weight exercises to help tone up those troublesome areas.

And all you need is the floor in your living room.

 

EXERCISE #1 THE BRIDGE

The movement targets:

Legs, bottom, pelvic floor and your stomach (core)

Why should I do this movement?

As you have probably already experienced, pregnancy wreaks havoc on the areas listed above. Performing the bridge gives your entire front body an incredible stretch as well as boosting your lower body strength including your pelvic floor.

How to do it:

To do this movement, lie on a flat surface (use a yoga mat if you have one) with your knees bent, your arms relaxed by your side and your feet flat on the floor. Very slowly, life up your hips by pushing through your heels and move your spine towards the ceiling. Your posture is important when performing this position so when you reach the top ensure that your knees, shoulders and hips are all in a perfect line. Hold the bridge at the top and gently squeeze your bottom and pelvic muscles for 20-30 seconds. Hold for however long you feel comfortable, the more you do it, the longer you’ll be able to squeeze and ‘feel the burn’. Once the 30 seconds are up, do not just fall to the floor. Relax your muscles, and slowly lower your spine back down to the start.

Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

EXERCISE #2 – THE SIDE PLANK

The movement targets:

Side abdominals, lower back, deep abdominal muscles

Why should I do this movement?

This movement targets your abs. Your core will be weak after giving birth and this movement is perfect for pulling your stomach muscles back together.

How to do it:

Lie on your side on a mat with your elbow directly under your shoulder. Bend your knees so that your feet are marginally behind you. Raise your hips by pressing through your elbow and this will engage your core muscles. Aim to hold this position for between 20-30 seconds. Rest and then repeat on the other side. As you train you can start to increase the time you hold the side plank. Eventually you should be able to hold it for 60 seconds.

Complete 2 – 3 sets on each side.

EXERCISE #3 – WALKING

The movement targets:

All of your muscles! But more specifically: the quadriceps, hamstrings, buttocks, pelvis, stomach, calf, shoulder and arms

Why should I do this movement?

Walking is one of the simplest ways to ease into a fitness routine after giving birth.

How to do it:

Start with an easy stroll, whether this is around the block or through your local park. A gentle walk with the pram can do wonders for you and your body; which can be done in the first 6 weeks after giving birth. After 6 weeks (once you’ve mastered walking and feel confident) you can bring the baby in a front pack. This will add extra weight and can increase the benefits further. You can then try power walking, walking backward, sideways or trying some lunges. This will keep your muscles guessing.

EXERCISE #4 – PLANK

The movement targets:

Abs, arms, legs

Why should I do this movement?

It requires minimal movement yet is an excellent way to strengthen the core. It also builds strength and increases flexibility.

How to do it:

Lie face-down on a mat with your forearms on the floor and your elbows under your shoulders. With your legs extended behind you, lift your hips and knees keeping your head, hips and heels in a straight line. If this is tricky, lower your knees to the floor. Hold the plank for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. Keep building on this position until you can eventually hold the plank for 1 minute.

Repeat this move 2 times.

EXERCISE #5 – PUSH UP

The movement targets:

Chest, shoulders, arms, abs

Why should I do this movement?

It requires minimal movement yet is an excellent way to strengthen the core. It also builds strength and increases flexibility.

How to do it:

On a mat, begin in a push-up position with your knees on the floor and your palms on the floor in line with your shoulders. Lower your face and chest towards the floor while keeping your back straight and your core tight. Then straighten back to the start.

Do 3 sets of 8-12.

You can challenge yourself by keeping your legs straight as you become more advanced.

 

So there are 5 weight-loss, strength and cardio exercises to help you get back into those pre pregnancy jeans. Remember that pregnancy involves a major transformation to your body. Once you’ve had your postnatal check-up it’s important to begin strengthening your abdominals and pelvic floor with the right exercises.

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