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Why Staying Active is Important as a New Parent

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Parent activity

Being a new parent is exhausting!  It is a constant round of sleepless nights, washing, changing nappies, calming the tears (sometimes baby’s and your own!).  All this is commonly performed along with the normal household demands of cooking and cleaning and perhaps caring for other children.

To suggest to a new parent that on top of all this they need to get some exercise can be a bridge too far.  Allow me to point out a few positives which can be achieved through getting out and getting active.

Weight

Everyone knows the benefits exercise can have on the waistline. Both walking and jogging are excellent methods to promote fitness and weightloss and can be performed with baby in tow.

There are now some superb, cutting edge 3 wheel prams on the market, ideally designed for power walking and jogging.  These prams and strollers are crafted to protect baby from the rigours of jogging over rough terrain whilst also protecting them from harsh weather conditions.

Relaxation

Taking a stroll around the neighbourhood is a very underrated tool for relaxing.  Breathing in the air, meandering through local parks and literally smelling the roses.

Research indicates that regular exercise can reduce stress and anxiety.  Rather than making you tired, it has been found to reduce fatigue, elevate the mood and improve sleep.

Mental health

In another study, it was found that those participating in regular, vigorous exercise were 25 percent less likely to develop mental issues such as depression or an anxiety disorder, over a five year period.

According to researchers, exercise is a vital tool in combating postnatal depression by increasing serotonin levels and improving physical fitness. Better still, utilising a program where you can exercise with other new parents can get you out of the house, facilitate an exchange of ideas and give your social life a boost.

How much is enough?

Whilst we are all in agreement that physical exercise is good for us, how much is recommended, what type and what is the best way to proceed?  Consider the following suggestions:

  • Begin slowly, particularly if you are not used to exercising
  • Walk or jog five times a week for around 30 minutes
  • Get into a routine. Frequency is important
  • Attempt to include a few hills on your route. The intensity of your exercise can equate to its effectiveness
  • As above, make sure your pram is designed to protect baby’s fragile head from vibrations or rough roads
  • Use a distraction such as an iPod, audio book or music (but be aware of surroundings at all times)
  • Walk with a friend or partner. Prams are wonderful at putting and keeping baby asleep, so it’s a great time to catch up on some adult conversation
  • Do exercises that you enjoy as you are more likely to keep them up.

When to begin

If you have had an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you can begin exercising as soon as you feel up to it.  However, for those who have experienced a caesarian section, extensive trauma or stitches, give yourself time to heal.  This would usually be around six weeks, but consult your healthcare provider to assess your individual situation.

As with PND, serotonin levels are linked to a number of other depressive illnesses.  Simply getting out into the sunlight can elevate these levels, taking our mood along with it.  Natural sunlight also increases our exposure to vitamin D; another contributing factor in keeping mood levels elevated.

If you are a new parent looking to feel stronger, healthier and happier, simply taking a stroll outside can be a marvellous tonic to a more relaxed and optimistic you.

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