1. Get the all clear
Before you start any new fitness programme, get the all clear from your doctor. This is particularly important if you have recently given birth. Make sure that it is safe for you to exercise and take any feedback that your doctor gives you seriously. Talk to them about your goals so that you are clear on what is realistic and safe for you.
2. Be realistic
Think about what you want to achieve by getting fit and then take practical steps to make it happen. Sometimes it is good to have a specific goal to work towards, such as a short distance local fun run, or doing aqua aerobics at a local fitness club. Make sure your fitness goals are ones that you can achieve, rather than planning to run a marathon four weeks from now.
3. Be practical
With little ones in tow it can be very difficult to get to the gym or local classes. When you are planning your fitness programme, you need to ensure it is one that is workable and suits your lifestyle. There are plenty of exercise DVDs that you can use at home instead and will give you a great workout. Alternatively, incorporate baby into your workout and head outdoors with them in the pram. By being practical you are creating a plan that will work in the long run.
4. Commit to it
Treat your exercise plans just like you would any other meeting or appointment. Make sure you put it in your planner and do it. Remember to try to schedule it at times that will work best for you. For instance, during baby’s morning nap is a good time to put on the exercise DVD and start working out. You will often find that, if you plan to exercise at the end of the day, it will be too hard to do for a number of reasons. Morning time is usually best. It gets done and you can get on with your day. By committing to your exercise programme, you are maximising your chances of building up your fitness more quickly.
5. Enlist help
If you can, get your partner or friends on board with you and your fitness plan. You’ll usually work out harder if you do your exercise with someone else and are far more likely to show up to train as well. If you have other friends who have babies, try to schedule brisk walks or jogs together during the week.
6. Move it
There are plenty of great Apps you can use as you work on building up your fitness. Regular exercise will help you get your heart-rate up (but at a sensible pace) and ensure your long-term fitness.
7. Do the hard yards first
It has been found that combination exercise gives greater benefits for weight loss, fat loss and cardio-respiratory fitness than aerobic and resistance training alone. Doing cardio and strength during the same workout not only helps you burn more kilojoules, but doing cardio first actually maximises the kilojoule expenditure of your workout overall, since cardio typically burns more kilojoules than strength training.
In order to get fit quickly it is important to have scheduled rest days as well. These days are to help your body recover from training and will also help to minimise any chance of injury.
9. Interval training
This is the golden ticket to helping you get fit quickly. Jan Helgerud, an exercise expert at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology says: “High-intensity interval training is twice as effective as normal exercise.” Put simply, the idea is to go fast, then go slow and keep repeating the cycle. You can do this jogging, cycling or swimming. You can jog for one minute then walk for 30 seconds and repeat the cycle for 10 to fifteen minutes. If you are cycling, then cycle at high resistance for 30 seconds and then 30 seconds at slow resistance. You will find this challenging in the beginning but will get better at it by doing interval training for 15 minutes to start off with, and building up to a 30 minute session.
10. Get enough sleep
For parents of babies and young children this can be extremely difficult. It is important to persevere with exercising even if you are tired and sleep deprived. It will improve the quality of the sleep you do get and your overall ability to cope. If possible, try to schedule a short nap and make sure that on your rest days you do just that, rest!