What about if I've had a Caesarean section--when can I start exercising?
C-sections are major surgeries, and the body needs time to heal. But, "Due to the advances in surgical procedures, many women who have undergone C-sections are ready to resume intermittent walking or other gentle forms of exercise by two weeks postpartum," says Druxman. "At six weeks, providing the woman feels up to it, many experts recommend isometric exercises, a form of resistance training that involves contracting muscles without moving the joints," adds Wider.
What are Kegel exercises?
"Kegel exercises are one of the most important things a woman can do after giving birth. These are designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which have often been overstretched during delivery. To do them: Squeeze the muscles that you would use to stop the flow of urine. Hold for three to five seconds and then let go. Repeat 10 to 15 times at least three times per day," says Wider.
The Bridge: "You lie down on your back and articulate your spine slowly off the ground, starting at the base (your tailbone). You do this movement until your hips are completely off the floor. Then you slowly lower the pelvis back to the ground. Great for re-teaching the muscles of the lower back and abdomen to fire correctly," says O'Brien. Keep your arms on the floor, legs together, feet on the ground, don't use your arms to help.
What's one of the best exercises women can do to get back in shape?
Walking. And even better, walking with a stroller. A study by the American Council on Exercise showed that using a stroller burned approximately 18 to 20 percent more energy at 3 mph and 3.5 mph than walking without a stroller (on average 6.2 calories per minute and 7.4 calories per minute respectively).
What should I look for when purchasing a stroller for fitness?
Make sure the stroller has a leash to avoid its escaping, hand brakes to control pace, a safety harness for the baby, inflatable tires (at least 16-inch wheels), three wheels (not four) and a light frame. You can expect to pay $300 or more. Additionally, Druxman recommends:
- A front wheel that swivels. A static wheel is great if you're moving in a straight line. But if not, you have to lift the back wheels to turn. Swivel wheels strain the wrists less because you can turn the stroller with one hand. A good model also has wheels that lock.
- Adjustable canopy that will block the sun.
- Padded harness for your baby.
- Adjustable handles or appropriate height so you don't hunch.
- Room for storage.
- Shocks. There has recently been concern that a baby can get Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) from bouncing in the stroller. SBS is a term that describes symptoms of brain injury that may occur from the impact of shaking a baby or small child. Choose a model with shock absorbers to keep the ride smooth.
- Strong brakes to prevent rolling when you park. A foot brake is more dependable than a handlebar brake.
- Tires with treads to handle all kinds of terrain. No-tread tires are better for flat, smooth roads.