mother

Let’s Talk About Postpartum Fitness: The Way Back to Physical Strength

Now that you and your baby no longer share a body, you might be thinking of gettingyour pre-pregnancy body back. Thoughts like “it would take only a few months to lose all thisbaby weight” might be in your head. You might even entertain the idea of doing intense workouts immediately, just so you could achieve last year’s waistline.

This mindset is dangerous, though. Your body has gone through a lot of stress. It might not be ready for an intense weightloss routine.

Instead of subjecting your body to extreme exercises, focus on a healthy fitness journey that would help you achieve your goal weight.

Is Your Body Prepared for an Intense Workout?

The most important consideration in postpartum fitness is your recovery. Jumping immediately into an intense routine might compromise your body’s ability to heal. Remember, your recovery is more important than losing baby weight. You have to be strong enough to keep up with parenthood’s demands, after all.

If you had a normal vaginal delivery, you can exercise a few days after giving birth, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). The US National Library of Medicine, meanwhile, sets a safe window of six weeks after delivery to beginexercising.

The case is different for a Cesarean delivery—it depends on the woman’s health, so it’s best to consult a physician. If you hear about other moms who signed up for intense classes immediately after childbirth, remember that every woman is different. What’s safe for others might be dangerous for you.

Additionally, be realistic about your goals. It may take several months — even years — for a woman to recover her pre-pregnancy body. And even then, the body might not be the same. Pregnancy changes your weight distribution and body shape, after all. The adjustments are to be expected. But all these changes are wonderful, and you don’t have to fight or reverse them.

Prioritizing Your Core and Posture

Apart from healing, you should focus on your core muscles and posture. These two are indispensable to your mobility, after all.

  • Core Muscles. Have yourself checked for diastasis recti. This condition occurs when there’s a gap between the left and right abdominal wall muscles due to the stretching and thinning of the connective tissues during pregnancy.

When a woman gives birth, the tissues usually repair themselves. In some cases, however, they have stretched so much that they lose their elasticity. As a result, women still look pregnant even though they’ve given birth.

When you have this condition, it’s not advisable to do exercises like crunches, sit ups, and push ups, as these can impair the healing process. Instead, work on deep breathing exercises that stimulate your core muscles. Then, if your doctor gives a go signal, you can perform any abdominal exercise you like.

  • During pregnancy, the baby pushes up on the diaphragm, preventing it from doing its job. Childbearing also decreases the strength of the pelvic floor and your glutes (the muscles in your buttocks). These three are key muscles for posture. If they don’t work properly, you’d hardly achieve balance and coordination.So, ask your physician for proper exercises for your diaphragm and pelvis.

Physical Activities for a New Mother

fitness for a momOn top of exercises for core muscles and posture, the ACOG recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic activities weekly. These tasks move large muscles of the body, like the arms and legs, in a rhythmic way. Keep it to moderate-intensity levels, though. This means the movements are difficult enough to raise your heart rate and start sweating. You should be able to talk normally but you cannot sing. Examples include brisk walking and biking.

The division of the work out is up to you. You can perform 30 minutes of exercise for five days orthree 10-minute walks each day. Just remember to spread it out. Don’t perform all 150 minutes of activity in one day!

If, however, you have performed vigorous-intensity exercises (activities where it’s hard to talk without pausing for breath) before pregnancy, you can return to the routine after the baby is born. Just secure the approval of your physician.Common vigorous-intensity exercises include running, jumping rope, and swimming.

Don’t forget to warm up and cool down, too. Allot 10 minutes to stretch the lower back, pelvis, and thighs. Then, spend 5 minutes after the workout session to bring your heart rate back to normal — walk in place or do some stretches.

Once you acclimate to physical activity, you can gradually intensify your routine. You can sign up for yoga, Pilates, and dance classes. You can also look for gyms that offer postpartum exercises.

Preparing for a Workout

Here are some tips to get you ready for a session:

  • Wear proper active wear. Clothes can limit your movements and mess with your body temperature. So, choose garments that fit loosely and keep you cool.
  • Breastfeed your baby before exercising. This way, you don’t have to workout with engorged breasts.
  • Wear high-quality bras — those that protect and support your breasts.
  • Drink water regularly. Dehydration might compromise your ability to produce milk.

The Proper Nutrition for a New Mother

yogurtYour weight loss routine expends much energy. Healthy meals maintain your lean muscle tissue, help you produce milk, and aid your weight loss.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables — experts recommend at least five portions a day. Include plenty of fiber-rich foods in your diet, such as oats, beans, and grains. At the same time, limit processed foods, unhealthy oils, and sugar. And make sure your protein needs are met.

Don’t forget to indulge yourself every once in a while, however. A slice of chocolate cake once in a while won’t hurt!

Staying Motivated

It’s hard to stick to your routine, especially because you have enormous responsibilities as a parent. So, here are some tips to keep you motivated:

  • Get a workout buddy – Time flies when you brisk walk with a work out buddy. He or she would help you be accountable for your fitness routine.
  • Set realistic goals – A concrete set of goals gives you a reason to get going and guides you throughout your fitness journey. Just make sure they’re realistic, though. Spread your goal weight loss over a year.
  • Reward yourself – Checked a fitness goal? Schedule a day at the spa or buy that shirt that you’ve been eyeing at the store. Celebrating your progress is healthy.

Being a mom is a great experience, but pregnancyreally takes a toll on your body. You have to embark on a healthy fitness journey to keep your body strongand ready for the challenges of motherhood.

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jazzercise

Jazzercise vs. Zumba: The Moves Toward a Sexier Waistline

Not everyone who wants to lose weight is a fan of going to the gym and jogging around parks alongside strangers. Fortunately, these are not the only ways to shed off some pounds — many people resort to moves and grooves to lose weight.

Experts agree that regularly dancing is an excellent way to lose weight. Dancing, when paired with the proper diet, gets you in great shape. It also improves muscle strength, bone density, coordination, and balance. And let’s not forget that it’s a fun activity — I’d go as far as to say that it’s more enjoyable than running or weightlifting. Most of the time, they don’t feel like a workout at all!

Selecting the type of dance class you’d join is a tough choice, though. Practically every type of dance, from hip-hop to ballet, helps you lose weight when done correctly. Some forms, however, are more popular than others. And from what I’ve seen, the two current favorites are Zumba and Jazzercise.

It’s alright to sign up for both. But let’s face it: it’s hard to switch from one type of dance to another. Let’s delve into their characteristics so you can choose the best one for you.

Jazzercise

Jazzercise, as its name suggests, was borne out of jazz; Judi Sheppard Missett founded it in 1969, after her love for the genre. It’s a fitness program that includes elements of jazz dance, cardio and endurance training, yoga, kickboxing, and even Pilates. Classes typically use weights and resistance bands.

Jazzercise instructors largely follow standard movements. So, if you attend classes in different locations, you’d probably recognize some of the routines. If not, take comfort in the fact that Jazzercise is easy to follow. The moves come in sets, and movement patterns often repeat.

Jazzercise uses the songs of the moment. So, although it’s based on jazz, you’ll also hear pop, blues, and hip-hop when you do your routine.

Over the decades, Jazzercise grew into a dance phenomenon and survived countless fitness trends. And its proverbial rival is Zumba.

Zumba

Zumba is a relatively new program. It was created in 1999 by Alberto Perez, a Colombian dancer and choreographer. While teaching step aerobics at a local dance academy, he forgot to bring music. All he had was a cassette tape of Latin music. He played it and improvised moves for his class. And so, Zumba was born. He then brought the dance to Miami, where it grew to near cult status. 

zumba

A typical Zumba routine features both dance moves and aerobic movements. Dance styles include merengue, salsa, reggaeton, cumbia, samba, and more. It mixes low-intensity and high-intensity movements to burn calories. It also includes warm-up and cool-down activities. Unlike Jazzercise, it doesn’t involve weights, resistance bands, or floorwork.

Classes depend on the preferences of the instructor. They can create original routines, so long as they target the right muscle groups. Sessions often use Latin songs (as Perez did) but instructors are free to use any type of music. As a result, Zumbais less structured than Jazzercise.

Various Zumba formatscater to various fitness junkies’ needs, such as:

  • Zumba Step – Sheds pounds and tones the muscles
  • Zumba Toning – Emphasizes toning and muscle sculpting
  • Aqua Zumba – Holds Zumba in pools for an added challenge
  • ZumbaSentai – Uses a chair for the routines
  • Zumba Gold – Caters to older adults
  • Zumba Gold Toning – Focuses on muscle conditioning among the elderly
  • Zumba Kids – Caters to children ages 7-11
  • Zumba Kids Jr. – Promotes an active lifestyle among kids 4-6 years old
  • Zumbini – Holds classes for toddlers 0-3 years and their caregivers
  • Zumba in the Circuit – Combines Zumba and circuit training
  • Plate by Zumba – Not a dance class, but it teaches healthy eating habits that could be applied in conjunction with Zumba

Calories Burned

There’s no standard number when it comes to the number of calories burned. According to the Jazzercise website, one 55-minute session could burn up to 800 calories. Meanwhile, the American Council on Exercise reports that Zumba classes burn an average of 369 calories.

Keep in mind, however, that several factors affect the number of calories burned. People with larger body weights tend to burn more calories. This is because they have a larger body to move and, as a result, exert more effortin moving around. People who suddenly danced after being inactive for a while tend to lose more, too. Other factors, such as age, gender, family history, eating habits, and many more, should be considered, too.

The calories you’d burn, therefore,depends on you — your physical condition, the intensity of the class you signed up for, your diet, and everything in between.

Dance Technique

The techniques Jazzercise and Zumba instructors employ differ. Certified Jazzercise instructors receive music and choreography (in the form of DVDs) every ten weeks. Because routines are structured, anybody can master a standard Jazzercise routine.

Instructors of Zumba, meanwhile, get to play around with the program. Because they don’t focus on a single type of music, they can tailor the moves according to their selected song. Routines, therefore, could vary from class to class. And it’s difficult for one to memorize them.

Fitness Level

The great thing about Jazzercise and Zumba is that they’re beginner-friendly. Anyone can do them, even if they don’t have a background in dancing. All you have to do is show up and give it your best. Additionally, these twoare not as strict as serious weight loss programs. You can always stop for a while if you can no longer follow.

The more time you spend adhering to the programs, the fitter you get. You build up your endurance, as well. After a few weeks, the routine would feel a little easier — and so wouldaccomplishing everyday activities.

In this category, both Zumba and Jazzercise earn an A+.

The Costs

I can’t confirm if one is more expensive than the other. Classes are run by independent instructors, so prices vary depending on the instructor and the location. Digital sources say that the cost ofJazzercise and Zumba classes are roughly the same, though.

Whichever you choose, the classes would be worth every penny.

Ease of Accessibility

Accessibility is the least of your worries! Countless Jazzercise and Zumba studios pepper the country. Austin Fit Magazine reports that Jazzercise has more than 7,800 instructors that hold over 32,000 classes each week in 32 countries. Reader’s Digest, meanwhile, says Zumba has around 30,000 certified instructors in 75 countries.

If you don’t want to go to studios for classes, try DVDs. Both release special videos designed for people at home.

Final Thoughts

I can’t say that one is more effective than the other in terms of weight loss. In truth, these dance programs need consistency and proper nutrition for you to see results. The point of decision, I think, lies in your preferences. If you like varied dance routines, then choose Zumba. If you prefer structured routines, then go for Jazzercise. Fan of Latin songs? Give Zumba a shot. Want a variety of music styles? Go for Jazzercise.

If you’re still indecisive, give both a shot and discover what you enjoy more.

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