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7 Expert-Backed Benefits of Exercise After Pregnancy

As a postpartum mom or parent, incorporating exercise into your day can feel daunting. However, research shows that even a tiny amount of activity can significantly benefit your health and quality of life post-baby.

Finding time to work out after giving birth (and once you get the all-clear from your doctor) is tricky but absolutely worth it. A short workout boasts many benefits, from more energy to improving mood, seven of which we outline below.

When you’re ready to safely return to exercise after birth, these research-backed benefits of exercise after pregnancy can help you feel inspired and ready to move.

Note: This post is for educational purposes only and does not replace medical advice or treatment from your healthcare provider. Always follow the advice of your primary care provider when making decisions about your health and well-being.

Jenni Diamond laying on yoga mat doing crunches

Here are seven expert-backed benefits of exercising after birth

At a glance, here are some reasons why working out appropriately after birth (when cleared by your doctor) can greatly benefit you.

  1. Improved sleep quality
  2. Higher energy levels
  3. Better mood
  4. Reduced risk of chronic disease
  5. Finding a healthier weight
  6. Back pain prevention and management
  7. Enhanced ability to “mom”

1. Improving sleep quality

Getting adequate and quality sleep can be a challenge for new mothers/parents. Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality, and adding physical activity into your day may help you achieve some much-needed shut-eye.

2.Boosting energy levels

Your energy demands are also tested as a new parent. Conserving your energy by curling up on the couch might seem tempting. However, physical activity can help to increase your overall energy as a new parent.

If you’re not feeling up to exercising, some gentle stretching or light walking is a great starting point.

3. Improving mood

Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood and decrease symptoms of anxiety and depression.

A study by Groth and David (2009) found that individuals who returned to exercise after the baby were likelier to report a feeling of positive well-being. If for no other reason, a postpartum workout might be just what you need to feel your best and prioritize your mental well-being.

4. Reducing the risk of chronic disease

Exercise can also improve cardiovascular health and decrease your risk of chronic disease. Research has shown that even light-to-moderate exercise can decrease your risk of chronic disease – another huge reason to get moving, regardless of the intensity!

Jenni Diamond standing on yoga mat and doing a side stretch

5. Finding a healthier weight

Women who participate in more physical activity postpartum may be more likely to return to their pre-pregnancy weight.

This is particularly important because having one or more children has been shown to increase one’s risk of becoming moderately overweight or obese, which can lead to many chronic health issues.

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Note: achieving a “healthy weight” is highly individualized and will depend on many internal and external factors, so speak with your primary care provider and/or consult a dietitian to support your body weight and health goals.

6. Back pain prevention and management

Many new moms experience back pain, which can be further exacerbated by repetitive daily tasks when caring for their child(ren).

Exercise is an effective treatment to prevent and decrease the severity of back pain, improve function, and reduce disability. It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing back pain, you should consult a healthcare professional regarding an appropriate exercise program.

7. Enhancing your ability to care for your little one(s)

Improving your fitness can increase your ability to participate in daily activities and care for your child(ren). For example, lifting your toddler, carrying, playing, and housekeeping require aerobic endurance and strength.

Being a mom is a sport, and optimal fitness will help you navigate this challenging season of life more easily (and, ideally, energy!).

Jenni Diamond laying on yoga mat doing child's pose

Some final thoughts on exercising postpartum

Even small amounts of physical activity postpartum can significantly benefit your health and well-being. Once medically cleared, exercise should be initiated gradually and be based on the individual’s capabilities, strengths, and limitations.

Other articles on postpartum exercise you might enjoy

Jenni Diamond standing on yoga mat and doing a side stretch
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