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Getting started with post-natal exercise

Pregnancy, childbirth and then parenting a young baby brings with it countless physical challenges and lifestyle changes.

It’s likely that your body feels very different to the way it did prior to your pregnancy, so you may be nervous and unsure about how to reintroduce exercise and movement back into your routine, while finding the time to do so may be more difficult than before. At David Lloyd Clubs, our friendly trainers can provide you with advice and expertise to help you to get started with exercise following pregnancy.

When can I start exercising again?

It’s important to consider the specific nature of your pregnancy as well as the delivery you had when planning a return to regular exercise.

If you had a natural birth, it is advised that you wait until your 6 week midwife check before doing any strenuous exercise. If you had a caesarean section, then it is advised that you wait until at least 8-10 weeks after giving birth to begin exercising.

In the lead up to this point, doing pelvic floor exercises is encouraged, and it’s also good to get out walking, while gentle swimming is also a great low-impact option if you have stopped bleeding.

Why is it important to exercise after pregnancy?

Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your cardiovascular health, improve your mood and general wellbeing, and to strengthen and tone your muscles.  During the postpartum period, exercise can also have specific added benefits, including:

  • Increased energy levels.
  • Strengthening and repairing core and abdominal muscles that are stretched and stressed during pregnancy and childbirth. This can also help reset your posture so you can return to the exercise you know and love with a reduced risk of injury.
  • Improved sleep.
  • Reduced risk of ‘baby blues’ and the likelihood of post-natal depression, due to the endorphins released and the little bit of time to yourself you’re able to enjoy.
  • Helping you to you cope with the stresses of a new born, and give you the strength required to hold and nurse a growing baby.

What kinds of exercise should I try to do?

When you feel ready to take your first steps towards regular exercise, we would recommend workouts that comprise a combination of low impact aerobic activity, followed by a further period of exercises which focus on building strength across your core. Starting at the level you were training at when you were at the 5 month point of your pregnancy is a good place get back into exercise.

This should then progress into sessions which begin to engage all the major muscle groups in the body around a central focus of the core, via compound moves such as squats, lunges, plank and push ups.

It’s vital to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard, but you can add time or intensity as you get fitter and your body feels stronger. It’s worth bearing in mind that each pregnancy and birth is unique, so if you’re unsure at any point about what it’s safe for you to do, it’s best to speak to your GP or midwife.

How can I get started at home?

With this in mind, as part of our huge range of on-demand workouts available via the David Lloyd Clubs app, we’ve developed a series of sessions designed specifically for you to strengthen your core and take the first steps back towards post-natal fitness. Simply download the app, and find our series of workouts within the Fitness & Challenges section of the app.

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