It is no question that postpartum exercise is important, but sometimes, it is the farthest thing from a new mom’s mind. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG)1 recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Moderate intensity means “you are moving enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You can still talk normally, but you cannot sing.” Exercise in the postpartum period helps to enhance mood, reduce stress, ease aches and pains, improve energy levels, helps improve health, and promotes better sleep.
There are many reasons why moms may struggle to begin or continue exercise. A systematic review by Edie et al2 complied total responses from 1807 postpartum women to determine the most common barriers reported. These barriers included tiredness, lack of sleep, unpredictable routines, domestic chores, lack of time, weather, lack of support, and breastfeeding.
Since we know exercise is so important in postpartum women, it is important to come up with creative ways to make sure moms are getting moving. Joining a walking group, either virtually or in-person, can be a good way to find support amongst other new moms. YouTube workouts can be great for a quick home exercise program that requires little to no equipment. Finding a mommy and baby yoga class can get baby involved and also give opportunities for new moms to support each other. Also, remember that 10 minutes of moderate exercise 2-3 times per day has the same health benefits as one block of 30 minutes. Sometimes, setting small, attainable goals can make a big difference with sticking to it. There are also plenty of online fitness communities that have chat forums that help build a support system and keep you motivated. With some modifications, it is definitely possible to stay active postpartum!
How did you stay active in the postpartum period?
- “Exercise after Pregnancy.” ACOG, https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/exercise-after-pregnancy.
- Edie, Rebekah SPT1; Lacewell, Alexis SPT1; Streisel, Christine SPT1; Wheeler, Lauren SPT1; George, Ellie SPT1; Wrigley, Jordan MA, MSLS2; Pietrosimone, Laura PT, DPT, PhD1; Figuers, Carol PT, EdD1 Barriers to Exercise in Postpartum Women: A Mixed-Methods Systematic Review, Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy: April/June 2021 – Volume 45 – Issue 2 – p 83-92 doi: 10.1097/JWH.0000000000000201