January offers a fresh start to implementing good habits. New Year’s resolutions are easy to declare but challenging to maintain. Whether you’re pregnant, caring for your infant or want to improve your health, here are seven tips to help you achieve a common resolution: getting fit.
- Set a realistic goal and make a plan for how you will follow through by setting an achievable target and charting the steps to achieve it. Want to exercise five days a week? Set a date for when you want to get there and work your way up to it. Start where you are, schedule some self-check-ins and celebrate your successes. Reframe your goal from “losing weight” to finding an active hobby that you love. Getting fit can be a side effect to having a new hobby.
- If you struggle with consistency, recruit a friend who shares your goal to help with accountability. Be supportive and cheer for each other. Schedule “good habit dates” to make sure you both make progress toward your target.
- Incorporate exercise into micro-moments of your day when you know you’ll have time. Do squats when brushing your teeth, stand up when you take phone calls, get aggressive when you clean, put on music and dance when you fold laundry.
- You don’t need a gym to work out. Use your body weight to get a good workout at the park, playground, backyard or your own home. High intensity interval training is a simple framework that lets you pick the duration of the workout. Do 10 repetitions of any bodyweight exercise and complete the circuit for a set amount of time. Doing 10 reps of sit-ups, lunges, tricep dips, push-ups and air squats in rotating rounds for just 20 minutes will leave you feeling breathless and accomplished.
- If you are pregnant, have empathy for yourself. You are learning a new body. Your hormones are fluctuating, your body is sustaining a new life, your hips are shifting, your joints are more pliable and your center of gravity is different than you are used to. Be gentle with yourself and listen to your body.
- Consider the state of your body and modify exercises to meet your fitness level and stage of pregnancy. For example, use a wall, counter or chair for extra support and balance when doing squats. Alternatively, if you aren’t feeling challenged, pick up your infant as extra weight for your squats.
- Remind yourself that exercise is for more than your physical health; it’s for your mental health, too. Boost your mood, relieve stress and curb postpartum depression by being active.
Staying safe and listening to your body are the most important things to consider when getting fit, especially when you’re pregnant or recovering from childbirth. If you have concerns about pain, bleeding, fluid leakage, dizziness or nausea, talk to your doctor. Generally, you are safe to continue the exercise you are used to unless it involves excessive contact, the risk of falling or high heat and humidity. In other words, if you’ve always been a runner, keep at it but check in with yourself; hot yoga and recreational basketball, on the other hand, will have to wait. Some examples of safe exercises to start or continue are walking, swimming, indoor cycling, low-impact aerobics, modified yoga and Pilates, running, racquet sports and strength training.