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Easy fitness for busy mums

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Forget ’snapping’ back into shape like those celebrities, and take the sensible ’slow and steady’ approach to post-pregnancy fitness instead

So you gained some weight during your pregnancy and your body isn’t quite the same as it used to be. Congratulations! Firstly, on the arrival of your beautiful new baby, and secondly, for the fact your body has done exactly as nature intended.

WELLBEING New Mums 100794

Of course, everybody knows that gaining too much weight (whether or not it’s related to pregnancy) can put your health at risk, so it’s wise to avoid letting that happen. But for the majority, some weight gain is a normal part of pregnancy, along with a host of other physical changes, some due to hormones and others due to the effects of carrying a baby and then giving birth to it.

Yes, certain websites and magazines are ever so slightly obsessed with commentating on celebs’ post-pregnancy physiques, particularly the ones that effortlessly seem to spring back into pre-bump perfection in a matter of weeks. But here’s the thing – we’re all different. A lot of these celebs will have been in mega-good shape, with excellent abs, before even getting pregnant (not to mention having lucked out in the genes stakes).

For most though, losing the post-pregnancy spread takes time.
This is not to say new mums should abandon all motivation to look after themselves – on the contrary. Eating healthily and staying active will help keep your energy levels stable, balance out those raging hormones, and help boost your moods, all of which is especially important if you’re struggling with sleep-deprivation and coping with all the general overwhelming changes of becoming a mother.
But take the pressure off. Give your body all the time it needs to heal, don’t rush into it, focus on taking care of your needs (not just everybody else’s!), and relish this special time.

5 top Fitness Tips for busy mums

With a bit of imagination, turning everyday activities into exercise can be easier than you think. Things like walking wherever possible, or having a dance in the kitchen are fantastic ways to get the blood pumping. Bonus? They’re completely free!

Virgin Active personal training manager and mum-of-one Chrissi Delapperal is a firm believer in incidental activity. Here are her top five tips for busy mums:

Chrissi Delapperal
Chrissi Delapperal

1. “Treat your house as your multi-level gym, and combine everyday tasks with a workout. For example, when you’re vacuum-cleaning, you could lunge instead of walking, and when wiping coving, you could incorporate squats.”

2. “If you’ve got a baby or toddler, add weight to your activities by carrying them in a sling/baby-carrier. You can even progress further with ankle/wrist weights.”

3. “Be imaginative and turn your favourite TV programme into a workout. For example, every time a favourite character appears or a certain word is said, challenge yourself to do 10 triceps dips on the sofa.”

4. “Train your core muscles by balancing on one foot, or on a Swiss ball, while brushing your teeth, doing the ironing, cooking or on the phone.”

5. “Just being active with the kids is a great way to get some exercise into your day, by walking or cycling with them to school if you can, and playing games with them in the house, garden or down the park.”

6 ways to turn your lounge into a gym

How long you wait before returning to a full exercise regime is an individual thing, depending on how pregnancy affected you, healing time from your labour (or caesarean surgery) and any other health conditions you might have. Make sure you listen to your body and advice from your doctor/nurse/midwife.

When you are ready to get going though, there are lots of ways to recreate that gym experience at home. “These are some fab exercises that can be done around the house,” says Chrissi Delapperal, Virgin Active personal training manager and mum-of-one. “They’re designed to take no more than 15-20 minutes a day, so can be easily slotted in.”

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1. Triceps dip

“Triceps dips will make you look at your sofa or armchair in a totally new light, as they make the perfect apparatus for triceps dips. Sit on the edge of the seat, with hands resting either side of your hips, fingers forward. Lift up your body and shuffle your feet away from the sofa. Now bend your elbows, gently lowering your hips towards the floor, hold for two seconds, and raise body up again. Try to do three sets of 15 reps.”

2. Push-ups

“Use your sofa to perfect the art of the push-up. Start with incline push-ups, with your hands on the seat and feet on the floor. This makes push-ups easier and is a great way to get used to this type of exercise. Once you feel you have mastered the move, you can graduate to decline push-ups, with your feet on the seat and hands on the floor. Be careful to keep your back straight, and don’t let your hips sag. Try to do three sets of 10 reps.”

3. Row

“You can grab any piece of kitchen equipment to do the row. Use a tin can, bottle or saucepan – whatever feels the right weight for you. Standing, bend both knees and sit your hips back into a half squat and lean forwards, keeping the back long and head in line with the spine. Holding your chosen weight in your right hand, hang your arm straight down by your side. Rest the left hand on left thigh to support the lower back. Draw the right elbow up towards the waist in a pulling motion then straighten the arm back down. To make this more challenging, lift the right foot and balance on the left leg. Try to do three sets of 10 reps on each side.”

4. Squats

“Squats are a brilliant exercise to master, they work your bum, legs and core. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and slowly bend your knees, lowering your body. Squat down as low as you can, keeping your head and chest high and shoulders relaxed. Hold for a second and then straighten legs to stand up. Try to do three lets of 15 reps.”

5. Superman

“The ’superman’ will work your core, back and glutes. Starting on all fours, line up hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Keep your spine long throughout, with your head up and tummy pulled in to engage your pelvic floor muscles. Lift and reach the right arm forwards and the left leg back, balance and hold for two seconds then come back to the start position and repeat on the other side. Try to do three sets of 10 reps, alternating sides.”

6. Star jumps

“Jump out of bed and start your day with some star jumps. This childhood throwback will not only put a smile on your face, it will also work A LOT of muscles, including your quadriceps, hamstrings, gluts, abs, biceps, triceps, and obliques. Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, bend your knees into a squat position and jump vertically as high as you can. While jumping, extend legs and arms out to your sides, into a star shape. Land with arms by your sides and knees bent. Try to do three sets of 15 reps.”