How Your Exercise Benefits Your Baby
Even if Mary Poppins herself were to come babysit, you'd probably still feel guilty about slipping away from your young child for a little exercise. But to really help the medicine go down, consider that there's nothing selfish about scheduling healthy time for yourself. In fact, making smart choices about working out and eating right will benefit your baby, too.
"Taking time to exercise helps us to be better moms," says Candice Allembert, a Vermont-based fitness instructor. "It's not vanity to want to have your body back better and stronger than before you gave birth. It's also not about being a size zero — but being a healthy size and weight for you."
Here's a look at how tots get a boost from their moms' workouts:
A new study from Oregon State University backs other research and time-tested experience: Adequate exercise equals more quality Z's. And a more rested mother is better able to care for her child. Don't worry about sleeping through your newborn's cry, as another new study also proves that moms are highly attuned to the sound of wailing babies.
"It eliminates aches and pains when we lose the extra weight," Allembert explains. That means we're able to hold the baby longer for bottle-feeding or nursing, and more willing to go the extra lengths to puree vegetables or even grow our own organic foods.
Whether you're going for a run, a ride or a swim, you're building the endurance that will allow you to keep up with your offspring. "Babies turn into active children," Allembert points out, "and we need to be able to keep up with them by feeling strong."
Better role modeling
The more you exercise, the more likely you are to stock the fridge with cold water and fresh fruit instead of soda and leftover junk food. When the baby is old enough to consume something other than breast milk or formula, he'll have more nutritious options available.
"It's very important to get back into some level of fitness as fast as your body will enable you to," says CrossFit trainer Meghan Barnes, mom of an 18-month-old boy. "Think of the surge in hormones we get from a good workout — it makes the mom much happier and makes her a better parent."
If all else fails — your babysitter cancels or you just can't tear yourself away from the baby's cute smile — remember that you can exercise with your child, too, thanks to jogging strollers, at-home workout DVDs and modified classes.
Allembert, who has two grown children, leads a 45-minute "Baby Pump" class in which new moms build strength and flexibility while their children rest on soft blankets or in an infant seat nearby.
"Baby is often content watching or sleeping," she says. "But if baby needs to be held, then you can use variations and typically keep working out. Being a new mom and nurturing and caring for our newborns is the most wonderful experience, but we can often forget that we need to take care of ourselves."