Many of us resolve to be healthier in the New Year. We pledge to eat more veggies and exercise more. But it’s cold outside and that left-over Christmas chocolate beckons. Leading a healthier lifestyle is not easy, and it takes commitment. Whether I was a stay-at-home mom, working part-time, or pursuing a full-time career with a busy travel schedule, I always made time for exercise.
According to WebMD, “Research has shown that exercise is an effective but often underused treatment for mild to moderate depression.” If you are pregnant or have recently delivered, check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Otherwise, let’s get going.
After each of my pregnancies, exercise was key to getting back to my former healthy self. I had a Caesarean section (first baby), a postpartum psychosis (second baby), and a son who died of a congenital heart defect (third baby). So it was never easy, but exercise was truly my salvation. Start out slowly and progress gradually to avoid injuries. Here are three strategies for new moms.
Exercise videos are great for new moms because you can do them in the comfort of your home. If you’re not used to exercising, start by sitting on the couch or floor with your baby and watching the video. Tap your toes and snap your fingers. Enjoy the music.
Bonus—nobody is going to see your belly flab.
Walking is one of the best and safest exercises for women of all ages. The ideal time to walk will depend on your preference and situation.
Getting outdoors also helps lift your spirits, but you can walk on a treadmill or in the mall during inclement weather.
Join a group of new moms or neighborhood friends. The socialization will be good for your morale.
I’m part of a group that hikes every Wednesday. In the winter we use snowshoes or crampons to navigate wintery trails. We share our joys and tribulations on the trail and build lifelong friendships.
Whether or not you choose to use medication, exercising will help you to feel better and may speed recovery from postpartum depression. Medication sometimes has unpleasant side effects and it can be worth trying exercise first in some cases of mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
Exercise has lots of positive side effects. Treat yourself to a new set of sneakers or an exercise video today!
Sharon Gerdes is a Postpartum Psychosis Survivor and Vice President of PSI. Visit her Food And Mood Blog.