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So, you have decided that today is the day, you are going to go back exercising. You have just been through a physically intense and emotional time in your life so going straight back into your intense HIIT classes may not be the best idea. Getting back into exercise after pregnancy is a different process for every person and it is essential you get clearance from your doctor to return to full exercise. Once you feel you are ready, please remember to pay attention to your body and take each day, one at a time.
Here I discuss a few factors you may need to take into consideration as you start exercising again:
Getting back to your full strength before you became pregnant will take time. Prior to starting an exercise programme, it is usually advised that you wait 6 weeks to return to full exercise. This is very dependent on your body, how you gave birth and how quickly you recover. I would recommend you begin with basic breathing/core exercises and Pelvic floor exercises as soon as you can. This will help to give you that kick start so you can return to exercise asap. Take it one day at a time, exercising 3 times a week will be plenty to get you back on the road.
When you become pregnant, your centre of gravity shifts. After giving birth, you will have lost a lot of weight quickly and now your body will need time to adjust to these changes. So, don’t be surprised that when you return to exercise your balance may be a little off! Incorporating some balance work like lunges will be of great benefit to you.
Your body will not be able to go straight back into high-intensity exercise. You will need to train at a lower intensity and slowly increase your pace over time as you recover. In general, at the start of your journey back into exercise, you should be able to hold a conversation while working out and should be about a 5/6 out of 10 on the RPE scale (Rate of Perceived Exertion). The duration of your workout will also depend on your recovery. It should slowly be increased over time, starting off with gently exercising roughly 3 times per week if possible. It is essential you are in tune with your body and you do not over train. Going too hard too quickly can be detrimental to your body and you will need all of that extra energy to look after your new little bundle of joy.
Strength & Flexibility
Again, this one will take some time. Even though you have been carrying around a little body for multiple months, your strength more than likely has decreased a little. Your muscles may not be as flexible as they were but give yourself time and the dedication to make this improvement. As the weeks go on, if you are consistent, you will move more freely and your strength will return.
Grab a Friend
Accountability can be one of the best ways to stay on track. You may be super eager to return to the gym but on the other hand, you may find it hard to commit and ensure there is a couple of hours a week set aside for yourself. Knowing you have someone counting on you to turn up to a class will probably make you less likely to skip that class! Starting a new class may also be a great way of meeting new like-minded moms 😊
Always ensure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated and you are eating enough calories to maintain lactation while burning calories. When you do return to exercise, it is essential you ensure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. You also need to ensure you are consuming enough calories so your body can recover well after exercising and continue to produce milk. Wearing a good sports bra will help with any pain you may be experiencing. A good cotton material will help to avoid any irritation and absorb any moisture.
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As you are exercising, ask yourself, “Am I extremely uncomfortable? Is recovery difficult?”
If so, you may need to reduce the intensity/weight or take some extra time to recover. Remember to stay in communication with your trainer/coach, let them know how hard you can push and how you are feeling. You may have a severe poker face and could be pushing harder than you need to 😊