It’s free, easy and your key to keeping fit post-baby. But how do you take it up a notch to boost your fitness levels?
Trips to the gym may be hard to squeeze in, but an outing with your buggy is something every mum can do. ‘Walking is one of the best ways new mums can get fit,’ says fitness expert Joanna Hall. ‘You can do it every day, plus it’s low-impact and easy on your joints.’
Set a brisk pace and you can burn up to 150 calories in 30 minutes. Your baby will benefit, too. ‘Babies naturally love being outside and are stimulated by what they see,’ says private health visitor Julia Headland. And research suggests that being near greenery will enhance your memory and concentration, as well as your baby’s.
Perfect Your Walking Technique
Walking is simple, costs nothing and can be turned into a great fitness routine. ‘Get your technique right and you’ll instantly feel better – posture will improve and muscles start to work in the right way,’ explains Joanna.
Walk using your whole foot – moving pressure heel to toe – and remember to pull your tummy muscles up and in. ‘Lower the handles of your buggy slightly and draw your shoulders down and back to give a good flow of air to your lungs and improve posture,’ says Joanna.
Pick up the pace
‘To burn calories you need to walk fast,’ says Emma Reddich, a postnatal fitness expert. ‘For maximum benefit, walk for around 40 minutes a day at a brisk speed that doesn’t compromise technique.’
‘Walking releases endorphins, which lift your mood,’ says Julia. ‘Even if a brisk walk is the last thing you feel like doing, it will make you less tired.’ Research has also found that the more time babies spend outside, the better they sleep – and not just because they find the movement of the pram relaxing. Natural light helps set their circadian rhythm, enabling them to distinguish between day and night.
Be sun savvy
Expose your baby to around 10 minutes of sunlight each day to boost vitamin D levels. Babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight because their skin is so delicate. For older babies, avoid the sun from 11.30am to 3pm in summer.
Always use sunscreen and cover your baby in loose clothing or use a shade on your buggy. Vitamin D is important for mums, too, boosting the immune system and keeping bones strong, especially if breastfeeding, which depletes your body’s resources.
Dress the part
Footwear is important. ‘Go for a shoe with a wide fit,’ says Joanna. ‘Your feet can get bigger during pregnancy and it’s important they’re not restricted. Trainers with a thin, flexible sole that mimic the sensation of walking barefoot are good.’ The soft soles of trainers can aid technique, helping to tone your legs.
Get added motivation
Download a route planner app from a site such as mapmywalk.com to get advice on walking in your local area and programmes to keep you motivated.
Does walking count towards your weekly workout? Let us know in the comments box below.