Postpartum Fitness. Part 1

October 11, 2012

Design an exercise program for your facility that will educate, motivate and keep members in shape

Postpartum fitness will help your clients combat postpartum depression, relieve stress, increase metabolism, build strength, shed unwanted pounds and relieve the aches and pains associated with childbirth.1,6 Before implementing a postpartum fitness program, consider the needs of your clients and the abilities of your instructors to ensure high-quality classes that are safe, challenging and meet the expectations of your clients.

Exercise Guidelines for Postpartum Women

Typically, women who give birth without complications should wait four to six weeks before performing high-intensity exercise to fully recover from childbirth, although some women may begin light activity days after delivery. Women who have had a Cesarean section (C-section) or had other types of surgery may have to wait longer before resuming exercise.1

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends your postpartum members to follow these exercise guidelines when beginning a postpartum fitness program:2

Obtain physician consent prior to working out.
Start the exercise program slowly and progress gradually.
Begin each exercise session with at least five to 10 minutes of warm-up and stretching, holding each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, and end each session with cool-down and stretching.
Start at 60 percent target heart rate at the beginning of a fitness program, and slowly progress to 80 percent for 20 to 30 minutes.
Wear comfortable clothing to keep cool during exercise and wear a sports bra for support.
Drink lots of water and avoid exercising in hot or humid weather.
A few days after childbirth, exercises such as Kegels (pelvic floor exercises), pelvic tilts, abdominal breathing and light walking will help clients to strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles, as well as the pelvic floor (preventing urinary incontinence and tightening the vagina stretched from childbirth).1,2,5 While many clients may not be able to perform these exercises at your facility, you can teach clients how to do them before they give birth and educate them on the benefits of postpartum exercise.

For more information on postpartum exercises such as Kegels and pelvic tilts, click here to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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