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Working Out with Babies and Toddlers

Start Me Up
In addition to improving overall conditioning, there are some basic isometric exercises that can help target muscles that are directly affected during the pregnancy and delivery.

Strengthening the Pelvic Wall
The Kegel exercises aren't going to make their way into aerobic classes any time soon, but they will help to strengthen your vaginal and pelvic walls. The way to visualize doing it correctly is to think of starting and stopping the flow of urine as you go to the bathroom.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Begin squeezing, holding each contraction for a two-second count.
  3. Do one set of 10, working your way up to three sets of 10 to 12 over the next week.
Audacious Abdominals
The most common complaint we hear from new mothers is, "I just had a baby so why do I look as though I'm still pregnant?" Don't fret; follow the abdominal routine below and you'll have your tummy back to its former self.
  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose. As you exhale through your mouth, think about pressing your belly button down toward the floor, tightening your abdominal muscles as you do so.
  3. Hold for a three-count and inhale as you release your muscles. Do one set of 10, working your way up to three sets of 10 to 15 over the next two weeks.
If you've had a vaginal delivery, your doctor will probably tell you that you can begin to do crunches after two weeks. If you had a C-section, it's usually more like four weeks.

Tighten Those Gluteals
If your buttock muscles have become a little flabby, we've got an exercise to strengthen your rear end.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight.
  2. Inhale deeply through your nose. As you exhale through your mouth, squeeze your buttocks together tightly. Hold the contraction for a five-count and release as you inhale.
  3. Do one set of 10, working your way up to three sets of 10 to 15 over the next two weeks.
After the second week, you can begin doing modified squats and lunges.

Joining a Postpartum Class
Another good way to get into shape is to join mom and baby classes, which are especially designed for new mothers. Not only will they help you get fitter, you'll be able to tap into the community of like-minded new mothers. Also, don't underestimate the importance of making an appointment to get out of the house. Often new mother's find most of a day has passed and they've not made it out the door. This is fine if it pleases you, but string a few of these days together and you're likely to be climbing the walls.

As your child gets older, you can incorporate game playing into your fitness goals: playing tag, sprinting, jumping rope, splashing in a shallow kiddie pool.

Baby, Let's Stroll
Strollercize is a system of exercise developed by personal trainer Elizabeth Trindade in 1990. After the birth of her first child, her husband gave her a "big, clunky" stroller. With creative energy and ingenuity, she developed a program consisting of cardiovascular, strengthening, and flexibility exercises that are done with baby and stroller. In 1992 the system she created received medical approval and in 1993 Strollercize classes began in New York City's Central Park. It is now licensed in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Illinois.

Two for One
Here's a news flash: Becoming a new parent is a wonderful experience wrought with joy, happiness, confusion, frustration, and fatigue. Without a doubt, parenthood is a two- (or more) person job. Given this, mutual support and understanding are essential. A great way to accomplish this is to participate in an exercise routine together.

"Good idea," you're thinking, "now who takes care of the new little one?" If it is logistically impossible to go to a health club together, don't despair; we'll give you some tips on putting together an exercise routine you can do at home.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Short Workouts © 2001 by Deidre Johnson-Cane, Jonathan Cane, and Joe Glickman. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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