When you become a mom, your daily routine gets complicated, to say the least. I remember thinking, “How hard could it be?” Or rather, I don’t remember thinking at all because the first six months of motherhood are pretty much a blur for me. Between feedings, diaper changes, swaddling, laundry and an influx of visitors, you’re exhausted.
Oh, and did we forget to mention sleep deprivation? Needless to say, your personal well-being comes in dead last on the priority list. But then you remember your pre-maternity clothes no longer fit, so you resolve to eat healthy and get some exercise. I’m tired just remembering that period in my life.
The good news is that you already have a fitness tool right under your nose – your stroller. Most moms get out daily with their strollers, but few realize that it can be a great workout. Increase your stroll into a power walk or light jog and you’ll get a cardio workout. Do exercises like stroller squats or lunges for your strength workout. You can even create your own gym outdoors, using benches and fences at your local park.
Try this 30-minute stroller workout on your next trip to the park. Strap in your baby, grab some water and start getting your strength back!
WARM-UP (3-5 MINUTES): Start with an easy walk, gradually warming up. The most common postural dysfunction when pushing a stroller is hunching forward, so be sure to keep your shoulders down and back throughout your walk. Draw in your belly button and engage that core!
STROLLER SQUAT (2 MINUTES): The squat is one of the best exercises for the lower body. Stand behind your stroller with the brake off and your hands about shoulder-width apart on the handlebars. Your feet and knees should face forward with your legs about hips-width apart. Sit your bottom way back and put your weight in your heels. Push your stroller out in front of you as you squat down, and pull it back in as you lift yourself up to a standing position. When squatting back, keep your spine long and strong, with your upper body only slightly tilted forward. A common mistake during this exercise is to bend too much from the upper body, when it should be the lower body that is reaching back. Do three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
STROLLER WALK/JOG (3 MINUTES): Let’s do some interval training. Walk or jog for 30 seconds as hard and fast as you can, then recover by slowing your pace a little for 30 seconds. Repeat this sequence until your time is up.
SUPERMOM (2 MINUTES): The weight of your pregnant belly forced you to hunch forward during the last nine months. To get that posture back, you have to strengthen your back. For this exercise, park your stroller and find a soft patch of grass. Yoga mats work too. Lie down flat on your tummy. Keep your legs together and your hands stretched forward, with palms and tops of feet facing the ground as well. Then slowly lift your legs, hands, head and chest, off the ground. Hold yourself in this position for about 15 seconds (enough time to tickle baby’s toes) and relax. Repeat this sequence until your time is up.
LUNGE WALKING (2 MINUTES): Just like the squat, the lunge is one of the most effective exercises a woman can do to tone and strengthen her lower body. It’s a compound exercise, which basically means it works a lot of muscles in just one move. A good lunge will effectively work your quadriceps (front of your thighs), hamstrings (back of your thighs) and gluteus maximus (your bottom). This exercise will be part of your walk. Lunge walk by taking really long strides and lowering your lower body down until your front thigh is almost parallel to the ground. Your front knee should not go farther forward than your toes. Lower your body slowly and squeeze your thighs and glutes as you come back up. For extra intensity, bring your knee up to a 90-degree angle as you come up, before lunging it forward on the next rep.
POWER WALK/JOG (3 MINUTES): Resume your walk using full, powerful strides. Keep your feet and knees facing forward and your body standing tall. Move at a pace that is challenging. This isn’t meant to be a recovery.
BICEP CURLS (2 MINUTES): Park your stroller with baby facing you, and pull out your exercise tube. Stand on the tube with legs about hip-width apart. Keep your shoulders down and elbows at your sides. With palms facing up, do a bicep curl. Even when doing an arm movement, you want to keep your abs engaged. For an easier variation, curl one arm at a time. To make the exercise more challenging, curl both arms at once. To get less resistance on the band, stand with only one foot on it. Perform 16 repetitions and sing to your baby! Studies show that your baby’s favorite sound is your voice! Sing the “Itsy, Bitsy Spider” and you’ll have completed your 16 reps. Rest and repeat .
POWER WALK/JOG (3 MINUTES): By now you should really be working. Keep your intensity high enough that you are a little out of breath, but not so high that you can’t sing to your baby.
TRICEP DIPS (2 MINUTES): Park your baby facing you and find a bench, step or curb. Position your hands shoulder-width apart on the bench. Slide your bottom off the front of the bench with your legs extended out in front of you. Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints. Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep your back close to the bench. Once you reach the bottom of the movement, press down into the bench to straighten your elbows, returning to the starting position. Keep your shoulders down as you lower and raise your body. You can bend your legs to modify this exercise. Do three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.
STROLLER SIT UP (2 MINUTES): Put your brake on and have baby face you. Lie down directly in front of your stroller with your feet on either side of the wheel. Start with arms straight on either side of your head. Keeping arms straight, move them toward your toes, draw your belly button in and contract your abdominals as you lift your torso off the ground. Exhale as you sit all the way up and tickle baby's toes. Inhale as you come down. Try 2 sets of 10 repetitions to start. These are especially tough after having a baby!
STRETCH (5 MINUTES): Take time to stretch all the body parts you just worked. This is a great time to take your baby out of the stroller to “stretch” with you! You’ve now finished a total-body workout that included strength, cardiovascular and flexibility exercises, all the while spending quality time with your baby.
· Safety is number one. Always be careful of cars and the environment when exercising with your baby.
· Always keep your stroller a hand’s reach away from you.
· We recommend waiting at least six weeks after giving birth before starting this or any other kind of workout. Make sure to get your doctor’s clearance before starting any exercise program.
· Always make sure your stroller is stable, and never hang on it or attach equipment to it.
*This blog was adapted from "Get Fit With Your Stroller" by Lisa Druxman, published by ACE Fitness on May 23, 2013.