Babies and strollers seem to go hand in hand, so why not get a workout in with both your baby and your stroller? It's convenient, cost effective and most importantly, gets you out of the house for some fresh air. Power walking with your stroller creates resistance and increases the intensity of a regular walk. Adding a daily walk at a moderate intensity will help increase your metabolism, release more ‘feel good’ endorphins and reduce stress.
Walking is a safe and effective way to become a more active and fit mom. It’s best to start slowly and begin by building up your time before your intensity, especially if you are new to exercise or have just had a baby. Gentle, short walks are usually ok soon after birth, but it’s always best to check with your care provider first and to listen to your body especially in the first 6-12 weeks postpartum. Start with 10-15 minute sessions gradually building up to 30 minutes of consistent walking.
Once you're feeling comfortable and are ready to add some variety to your walks you can try some of the following:
Play with intervals: After your body is warmed up (usually 5-10 minutes at an easy to moderate walking pace) you might want to include some intervals. Increase your pace to a brisk walk and maintain it either for a period of time (30 seconds, 45 seconds or a minute) and then follow with a recovery period of 1-2 minutes at a reduced pace. Repeat 2 or 3 times. Babies and toddlers often enjoy the change of pace too! If you've got an older child out with you, they're apt to start cheering you on “faster mommy, faster!” or "go mommy!".
Include lower body exercises like squats & lunges into your walks: To squat, stand with the stroller in front of your body, hands resting on the handle bar and your feet shoulder width apart. Lower your bottom towards the ground, keeping your chest lifted and weight in your heels. Don’t let your knees come over your toes, instead work at keeping them stacked over your ankles. Squeeze your glutes as you push back into standing position. To help ensure perfect posture in your squats, try doing them standing in front of a park bench so that you need to reach back to touch the bench as you lower your body. You'll find that this really helps keep the weight on your heels. Add some stroller movement to keep baby happy. As you sit back, push the stroller further in front of you, as you return to standing, pull the stroller in. Aim for 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps each. You can also make it a circuit by alternating squats with lunges. Either way, you will soon feel your booty burn!
Mix it up: Walking the same route everyday becomes boring and decreases your internal motivation. Instead, use this time to explore different neighbourhoods, parks or pathways. Ottawa has some beautiful pathways along the water! Play around with inclines and declines. Pushing your stroller up a hill is a great way to keep your walks interesting and challenging! Gradual inclines are ideal. When you're going uphill, you'll want to remember to keep your stroller closer to your body by keeping your elbows at your waist and avoid fully extending your arms out in front of you so that you're not leaning too far into your stroller. Proper form can help you avoid back and neck problems.
We encourage you to get out with your stroller most days of the week, for at least a 30 minute walk. When babies are younger or don’t want to be in their stroller, try wearing them in a baby carrier. Just modify your pace so that you and your little one are safe & comfortable. When you're ready for a bit more structure to your workout, check out our FITMOM Stroller Strength or FITMOM and Baby classes!
Finally, it's always more fun with a friend! Get in touch with another mom and do it together! Chances are, she'll appreciate the company, the fresh air and the exercise. If you don't know any other new moms, look up the Boomerang Kids free Strollercise program. It's a gentle introduction to fitness after baby and it's a great place to begin building your mom community.