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Reasons to Exercise Post-Baby

Staying fit has never been so important. Here's why.

Photo: Veer

We can all agree that it sure would be nice if we could ride home from the hospital in our pre-pregnancy jeans...but, sadly, it just doesn't work like that. And once you get home, there are a few things that get in the way too-- hormonal changes, lack of sleep, 5 billion diapers a day, a constant fear of screwing up your kid. Now, before you say, "I just can’t think about working out for another six months," we’d like to let you in on a little secret: There’s actually no better time to start getting back in shape. Of course, you don’t just have take our word for it. Fitness expert Tracey Mallett and Bumpies agree on these six reasons to exercise after baby:

1. You have time

"No one needs an hour a day to look good and keep in shape," says Mallett, author of Super-Fit Mama. So how much time do you need? As long as you're consistent and efficient, she says that 10 minutes here and there will work just fine. Is it easy to spend your extra pockets of time doing lunges instead of watching baby watch Elmo? Or zoning out on your lunch break? Actually, yes--once you're in the habit.

2. The energy boost

Exhausted? Sleep isn't the only thing that gets your motor running. A lap around the block has been known to fight fatigue too. "Yes, it seems weird to exert more energy to get more energy but it absolutely works," Mallett insists. "Try adding a morning stroller walk or jog." Other moms agree: "I'm not one of those people that enjoy working out, but I feel so energized and good now," says one new Bumpie about jumping on the workout bandwagon.

3. The endorphins

Not only does exercise get your heart pumping, it may put you in a better state of mind. "Exercise releases stress at one of the most stressful times in a mom's life," Mallett explains. In fact, a recent study showed that a few hours of exercise each week has the potential to ease postpartum depression.

4. The mommy break

Moms are in constant demand, and many feel bad taking time for themselves. Workouts give you a chance to step away and clear your head, and since the benefits (better mood, better body, more energy) roll over to your spouse and baby too, you can lose the guilt. "I absolutely adore my daughter, but being a stay-at-home mom, I need some time to myself and getting to the gym does wonders!" says another mom. Can't get a sitter? "Stroller fitness classes are a fabulous way to work out with other moms and get out of the house and exercise with your baby," says Mallett.

5. The bod

Should you work out just so you'll feel prettier? Maybe. Body image is super-important, and we women tend to hit a big mental slump if we aren't happy with our physical state. "My motivation to exercise is so that I can feel comfortable enough in my skin again to have sex with my poor husband," says yet another new mom on the site. Will exercise make you feel instantly attractive? Nah, but it sure is a good start. Just remember to give yourself a break--your body just went through nine months of morphing. According to Mallett (and pretty much everyone else we've ever talked to), you should allow for at least a good nine months of recovery.

6. The kid

There's no denying it: Your healthy habits are great for your baby. So squeeze in some crunches while you're down on the floor playing. (Or help baby learn her numbers as you count leg lifts.) "This not only sets a good example that exercise is fun, but you’re entertaining the kids and getting some valuable exercise time," says Mallett.

So let's see...exercise can make you look better, feel better, have more energy, and encourage healthy habits for your baby--and you can don't have to rearrange your life? Sure sounds like a plan to us.

-- Erin van Vuuren

See More: Exercise , Mommy Life