When Jakob & Ben were babies walking was a very big component of my workout routine. It was convenient, cost effective and most importantly, got us out of the house for some fresh air. Walking with a stroller also creates resistance and increases the intensity of a regular walk. Daily walks at a moderate intensity will also increase your metabolism, release more ‘feel good’ endorphins and reduce stress.
Walking is a safe & effective way to become a more active and fit mom. It’s best to start slowly and I always recommend building time over intensity, especially if you are new to exercise or have just had a baby. Gentle, short walks are usually ok soon after birth, but it’s always best to check with your care provider first and to listen to your body especially in the first 6-12 weeks postpartum. Start with 10-15 minute sessions gradually building up to 30 minutes of consistent walking.
Once you are feeling comfortable and are ready to add some variety to your walks you can try some of the following:
Play with intervals. After your body is warmed up (usually 5-10 minutes of easy -moderate walking pace) you might want to include some intervals. Increase your pace for a brisk walk and maintain it either for a period of time (30 sec, 45 seconds or a minute) followed by a recover period of 1-2 minutes at a reduced pace. Repeat 2-3 times. Babies and toddlers often enjoy the change of pace too! As my boys got older you could hear them cheering me on “faster mommy, faster!” (Ben would often be biking beside me and say helpful and motivating statements like “You call that running?” quickly followed by “Good job, Mommy”. He was a tough training partner!)
Include lower body exercises like squats & lunges into your walks. To squat, stand with the stroller in front of your body, hands resting on the handle bar and your feet shoulder width apart. Lower your bottom to the ground, keeping your chest lifted and weight in your heels. Don’t let your knees come over your toes, keep them stacked over your ankles instead. Squeeze your glutes at the top of the move. I like to do squats standing in front of a park bench, this helps to ensure proper alignment. Add some stroller movement to keep baby happy. As you sit back, push the stroller further in front of you, as you return to standing, pull the stroller in. Aim for 2-3 sets of 10 reps. You can also make it a circuit by alternating squats with lunges. Either way, you will soon feel a booty burn 🙂
Mix it up. Walking the same route everyday becomes boring and decreases your internal motivation. Instead, use this time to explore different neighbourhoods, parks or the waterfront trail. Play around with inclines and declines. Pushing your stroller up a hill is a great way to keep your walks interesting and challenging! Gradual inclines are ideal. There are a couple of great ‘hills’ in my neighbourhood that I have used as part of my workouts; and if you’ve ever been to a FITMOM StrollerStrength class in Ajax you have likely gone up and down a very BIG hill at least twice! Just remember to keep your stroller closer to your body by keeping your elbows at your waist and avoid fully extending your arms out in front of you. Doing so can cause back and neck problems.
I encourage you to get out with your stroller most days of the week for at least a 30 minute walk. When babies are younger or don’t want to be in their stroller, try wearing them in a baby carrier. Just modify your pace so that you and your little one are safe & comfortable. Happy trails!
Check out this cool infographic I made with our 5 reasons to exercise with your stroller! Get outside and have some fun with your favourite workout partner!