For most new moms, lacing up their sneakers and hitting the gym are perfectly safe things to do at six weeks postpartum. Your doctor or midwife will give you the green light on exercise when he or she feels you’re ready.
While we’re never going to advocate for a new mom shedding her baby weight as fast as can be, know that there are elements of exercise that give postpartum women a boost – and they have nothing to do with weight loss. Here are four reasons to get your heart pumping during your postpartum period:
A mood boost
Researchers are quick to boast the psychological and emotional benefits of an exercise program. Regular physical activity has been shown to release endorphins, feel-good chemicals in the brain, that may ease depression and anxiety. Because the first months of motherhood can be fraught, squeezing in a short jog or walk on the treadmill promises to help you ride the waves of some difficult postpartum emotions.
It sounds counterintuitive, but to increase your energy, you may have to spend some first. Have you ever had those days where you can’t seem to get off the couch? In those cases, taking a stroll around the block instead of a nap may give you the boost you need to get through the rest of your day. What’s more, exercise can help regulate your sleep cycles, which seems all too critical a piece with a newborn in the house.
Read more: 5 surprising benefits of prenatal exercise
Strengthen abdominal/lower back muscles
No, we’re absolutely not encouraging you to hit the gym for a six pack. But exercising now will help you regain the strength in your core – and support your lower back as you rock and sway your baby well into the night. Translation: A stronger core now means a less aching back tomorrow.
You’ve heard this joke, right? Once you have kids, you’ll never go to the bathroom alone again. While motherhood may mean you’ll rarely have time for yourself, carving out some time for a jog, yoga, or aerobics can guarantee you can go solo when you need to.
Now your turn: Have you been exercising throughout pregnancy? Will you keep it up once baby arrives? Share your thoughts with other moms-to-be in the comments below.
Read more: Want to make labor easier? Exercise!