Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Benefits of working out with your baby.

I started working out with my 1st daughter when she was about 3 months old.  We did Stroller Fitness through the summer and then baby & me fitness (with her in a carrier) until she was a year old and I had to return to work.  We both loved it.  She was an active part of my workout and got most of my attention for that hour.  I got a great workout in and did not have to worry about finding someone to watch her.  Plus, if she got hungry, all I had to do was stop and feed her.  It was a group of moms, there was no worry about breastfeeding as needed.

The stroller fitness class that we attended was great.  I signed up for morning classes, so it would get my day started off the right way and it lined up with my daughters morning nap, so she would sleep through most of the class.  She was a pretty easy-going baby, so she was good even if she did not fall asleep.  I have been teaching Stroller Fitness classes myself now for 4 years.  After my 2nd daughter was born, I decided to start offering the classes in my neighbourhood (this is before I moved to The Beaches in Toronto).  She was not as easy-going as my 1st daughter, but she still seemed to be happy just to get out in the fresh air and always enjoyed the stroller ride.  My girls are older now, but they still come with me to a class or 2 each week.  They no longer stay in a stroller, but they are good at staying close by and entertaining all the babies.  I still continue to teach Stroller Fitness classes, even if my own kids are not in strollers, just because I love it. It can be a great workout and it is a great way for the moms to meet some new friends while the kids get a bit of fresh air.

I also offer indoor Mom Fitness classes.  These are great for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.  As my kids got older, I really noticed the lack of classes offered for moms with more than 1 child and for moms with older kids.  These classes can sometime be chaotic, but they are all worth it!  The moms manage to get in a great workout (most days... all kids have their bad days)... and the kids get a chance to have a playdate with the other kids.

So, there are the obvious benefits to working out with your baby... the exercising itself is great, the time with your baby is wonderful...but there is more.  There is the mental benefits that are specific to new moms.  Exercise reduces stress and decreases the chance of post-partum depression.  For anyone that has experienced this or has been close to someone who has, you know how traumatic it can be for everyone involved.  Life with a new baby is filled with stress, sleep-deprivation and loneliness... a exercise can help with all of these, especially one that is geared to new moms. Exercise can actually help mom sleep better!  Plus, if you join a class for new moms, you are sure to meet at least one other mom that you become good friends with.  In my classes, over the past few years, I have seen so many strong friends grow and continue long past the maternity leave.

Babies benefit from the exercise as well.  If it is a class that actually includes the baby in the workout, the interaction is wonderful... it is also a change from the day to day routine.  There were days when my girls were so cranky, I would be going insane... just getting out of the house and getting into a new space where they were getting my attention would be all they needed.  The interaction in these "babies included" workouts builds confidence, self-awareness, human connection and love... all these intimate interactions are vital to your babies emotional growth and development.

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