Fri | Jan 20, 2017

Losing weight after pregnancy

Published:Wednesday | March 2, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Natalie Murray on the circuit run at Shakti MindBodyFitness centre in Kingston. - Gladstone Taylor/Photographer

Kenneth Gardner, fitness club

Some women who have had a normal uncomplicated childbirth are able to start very simple exercises within 24 hours. However, it is prudent that you get medical clearance before starting a major post-natal exercise programme.

Exercising can be extremely difficult during the first few months. Be aware of your energy level and only do what you can handle comfortably. Thus, you can spread your workout throughout the day, which can be just as effective. You also don't have to do complicated activities - just keep active.

Your exercise prescription should focus on three main areas: core strength, cardiovascular fitness and strength training. Pregnancy can weaken the abdominal muscles, as well as increase the accumulation of fat. Thus, there is a need to strengthen the muscles that were stretched and possibly weakened.

Pelvic tilts and sit-ups

Specific exercises will not cause you to spot reduce fat from your abs. Getting flatter abs involves losing overall body fat with a combination of cardio, strength training and a healthy diet. You can include the pelvic tilt, ball crunches, back extension, and modified sit-ups in your core strength exercises. Sit-ups are the best exercises to get your upper abdominal muscles in shape quickly. You can start your routine with one set of 10 to 15 reps of each exercise two to three times each week, and make changes to keep the experience novel and challenging.

Use the baby stroller

Walking is a good, low-impact cardiovascular activity and it will not subject your joints to the jarring associated with other high-impact aerobic activities. You can start walking slowly and easily, for about 20 minutes a day, three days each week, to improve your metabolism and energy level and to lose weight. Pushing a stroller with the baby in it will make walking more challenging and you will burn many more calories, lose more weight and improve your strength and circulation. Over time, it will be easier to transition into higher-impact activities and, as you get stronger, you can increase the intensity with interval training about once each week.

Chair squats

Strength training is an important part of the weight-loss programme and good for recovery from childbirth. It will build lean muscle tissue, increase your metabolism and provide the energy to pursue tougher routines. Like other activities, start out slowly and proceed cautiously. Strength exercises that will strengthen your core and stabiliser muscles, will improve your balance and flexibility.

Choose exercises that involve more than one muscle, so that you strengthen your entire body by doing fewer exercises. A simple routine could include chair squats, assisted lunges, modified push-ups and overhead presses. Start each routine with one set of 10 to 15 reps, without weight or light weight, and add incrementally.

Dr Kenneth Gardner is an exercise physiologist at Holiday Hills Research Center. Email: yourhealth@gleanerjm.com.