Even if you’re anxious to lose the baby weight, it’s not an easy thing to do, despite what celebrities and some Fitspo Instagram stars may claim. (Here are other new mom myths you need to stop believing stat!) It’s not just the lack of energy and time that comes with having a new baby; there’s another stumbling block that stands in the way too.
Contrary to popular belief, taking on a regimented workout routine, such as a boot camp or the like, is not the best way forward for new moms. In fact, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, if you want to see some real results, you need to be open to a level of freedom in the workout you choose.
“Specific exercise programs can seem like an insurmountable barrier to new moms,” explains Emily Mailey, researcher and assistant professor of kinesiology. “The results of this study suggest that the idea of encouraging new moms to fit in any kind of activity any way they can might be the best approach for easing back into exercise after giving birth.” (Here are some ways new moms can sneak in exercise.)
As part of the study, Mailey worked with new mothers, who’d given birth between six weeks and a year previous, and looked at ways to help them boost their exercise schedules. Half of the group was given advice but generally able to choose their exercise routine, while the rest were given a strict running course regime.
The findings showed that the regime that worked best was the more relaxed approach, i.e. the one in which people were able to choose a style of exercise that suited them. The takeaway is simple—flexibility is key when it comes to working out after you’ve had a baby. Simply having the choice of which type of exercise you do will likely encourage you to do more of it and even enjoy it too.
So, while exercising less may be a natural side effect of becoming a mother, there are ways in which you can combat it. Plus, as Mailey explained, that there are many advantages to new moms working out and generally keeping fit, including boosting their likely depleted energy levels.
“Even people who were really active before having kids tend to decrease their physical activity after having kids because they prioritize the baby’s needs first. In the workshops, we talked specifically about guilt and the idea that doing something for yourself is not selfish—it actually might help you be more patient or have more energy for your kids.”