Parent Fit – Part Two

Is it possible to stay healthy when your world is turned upside down?

When children arrive, all your health goals go out of the window right…?

In this series we’ve been looking into ideas that actually support a healthy lifestyle when children arrive and your world is turned upside down.

I understand that if you haven’t got children you may feel this is not for you. You’d be right. But you may be able to use the principles outlined when going through certain crazy situations in work or with family that completely turn your world upside down.

But before all that…

IMPORTANT NOTICE: You may find this hard to believe, but I’m not actually a midwife J . Nor am I a doctor or any other of those amazing people on the maternity ward. The topics we discuss in these articles are merely observations and suggestions from someone who’s studied how to improve the performance of the human body and mind-set as a living for over 15 years. Please do not take these ideas as prescriptions, see your health professional before you do anything.

This week I want to talk about movement

You may notice I have used the word movement not exercise. This is for a very specific reason. When you hear the word exercise, what are the first images and emotions that come to mind? For most people, it involves a sweaty gym and often, a sense of punishment or obligation.

There is a common belief that the only way to benefit from exercise is that you have to do it in a gym and work until you cannot work anymore! No wonder the mere thought of it can give new parents nightmares.

There is another way

Intense exercise causes energy expenditure, hence the term: work-out. As I will talk about in a future article in this series, during child birth your whole system goes through a tremendous amount (obviously a woman’s far more than men’s). So tough work outs i.e. expending more energy, aren’t always appropriate.

What we found to work well for us were work-in movements. These are gentle movements that don’t raise the heart rate or get you breathless (so you are not expending energy). Yet the movement still improves blood flow, which helps to restore the body, so you actually gain energy. You can read more about work-in and work-out exercises here.

Movement is always helpful. What movement is appropriate at any given time should be the question. So whilst you are still reeling from the dramatic shift in your life (or anytime when you are under a lot of stress and feel a work-out would make you feel worse) work-in exercises could be the key. Here are three simple examples:

1) Gentle walking. Ideally outside so you can get the benefit of fresh air. Start with 5-10minutes/day, see how you feel afterwards and adjust the time accordingly

2) 5 minutes of slow, deep breathing. You can either do this lying down or standing up accompanied by rhythmic arm movements (as if you have a paint brush in each hand and are painting the fence)

3) Play. Pick activities you really enjoy but don’t normally get a chance to do.

See these less as a chore and more like you are giving yourself the gift of movement. You deserve the benefits they give. After a while, you may feel like you would like to do something a bit more

energetic or feel the need to strengthen your body (back & core etc.) due to the new strains. This is what we’ll talk about next week.

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