New parents face a host of challenges upon bringing their bundles of joy home for the first time. One of those challenges is altering their lifestyles so they can more capably tend to their child’s needs.
Though expecting parents no doubt anticipate changing their lifestyles to accommodate their growing families, few may know the specifics of how their lifestyles will change. Though each couple is different, many couples see their exercise habits change dramatically upon the birth of their child. A 2011 study from researchers at the University of Minnesota found that both mothers and fathers had lower amounts of physical activity compared with nonparents. Mothers who participated in the study reported engaging in 2.36 hours of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, or MVPA, per week, while women without children reported engaging in 3.19 hours of MVPA per week. The disparity was even greater among fathers, who reported getting 5.33 hours of MVPA per week compared to 6.89 hours of MVPA per week for men without children.
Finding time to exercise can be difficult for anyone. But new parents may find it especially difficult to get daily physical activity. While the following ideas may not replace the vigorous workouts new parents are accustomed to, they may help men and women maintain healthy body weights.
Physical activity can be embraced just about anywhere. Though you may be used to daily workouts at the gym, such excursions may no longer fit into your schedule. To counter your reduced hours at the gym, skip the shortcuts you have grown accustomed to taking. For example, take the stairs up to your office instead of the elevator and park further away so you can squeeze in some cardiovascular exercise. Skipping shortcuts is a great way to burn calories and can help you maintain a healthy weight even if you are no longer pushing yourself to the limit at the gym each day.
Spread your workouts out over the course of the day
Many people tend to get all of their daily physical activity in one fell swoop. But that’s mainly done for convenience and not necessarily effectiveness. Workouts can still be effective if you spread them out over the course of the day. Exercising in small intervals throughout the day may help you maintain your energy throughout the day, and that should be especially appealing to parents of newborns. Squeeze in a quick workout each time your child naps throughout the day, and do your best to meet your daily quota while your spouse is tending to the baby.
Continue setting fitness goals
Once your child comes home, it’s easy to fall into a routine that does not include exercise. But your long-term health depends on a host of factors, including how physically active you are. Keep setting fitness goals even if it seems like you will have no time once your child is born. These goals can motivate you to find time for exercise no matter how much your lifestyle has changed.
Take your child along
When the weather permits, include your child in your exercise routine by taking the baby along with you on walks or bike rides. Purchase a fitness stroller so you can continue to jog even while you look after your child.
New parents need not abandon their exercise routines upon welcoming their child into the world. A concerted effort on the parts of moms and dads can ensure they continue to get adequate exercise each day.