Most female cyclists are itching to get back onto the saddle to start shedding those unwanted pounds and start getting fit again after they've given birth. But many are nervous about deciding when is the right time to get back to it. Once your doctor has given you the all clear to start exercising again (generally six weeks after childbirth) you should be fine to start cycling again as long as you take it slowly and listen to your body.
No matter how smooth your pregnancy and the birth went, your body has still been through a huge ordeal so it is important not to push yourself too hard. Invest in some ultra-padded cycling shorts to provide you with that extra comfort where you'll certainly be seeking it and start off with just short, steady rides under 30 minutes.
As you get used to riding again and if your body is responding well to the exercise, introduce a short bike ride into your daily routine. Cycling is a great post-birth work out, here are six reasons why:
1. It lifts your mood and helps prevent depression
Around 15% of women suffer with some form of postpartum depression in the months after their baby is born. For those new mums that aren't depressed, there's still a good chance that they will be feeling a little down with being stuck in the house a lot of the time and struggling to cope with the lack of freedom they now have (and of course the lack of sleep too).
Cycling for a short time each day can help lift your mood greatly and in turn, it can help prevent depression. As much as you will feel it's your job to look after your baby and be with them 24 hours a day, getting out by yourself for just 20 minutes a day and getting some gentle exercise can do heaps to improve your spirit.
2. It gives you some much needed me time
From the second your baby is born until they are a few weeks old you are going to be constantly swarmed with swooning friends and family wanting to catch a glimpse of the new little baby. This is great that you have so much support around you and that your little one is so loved, but it can also become a bit too much for you especially when you won't be getting much sleep.
Take advantage of this continuous swarm of visitors by getting them to watch your baby for half an hour whilst you go out and get some fresh air and a small dose of much-needed me time. Cycling can be your excuse - no one will be surprised that you're eager to get rid of that baby weight - but at the same time you will get to enjoy a few baby-free minutes where you don't have to worry about whether you did the nappy up too tight, and can instead concentrate on you and your thoughts.
3. You won't wobble around on a bike
Many women struggle to get back into their preferred sport or form of exercise after childbirth because their breasts have gotten so big through breast-feeding that they constantly get in the way. The great thing about cycling is that it doesn't matter how huge your top half has got, as long as you wear a protective sports bra they won't get in your way or cause you any discomfort at all.
4. It restores muscle strength and conditions your abdominals
After you've given birth your body changes a lot. Your abdominals may have come apart and your muscles will be weaker. It's in the few months after pregnancy that you are much more likely to suffer a sprain or break, so be sure to take extra care and don't tackle any trying trails. But so long as you stick to gentle cycling, your muscles will slowly strengthen and begin to return to how they were pre-pregnancy.
5. It's a great way to shed that extra baby weight
Although a lot of the baby weight will fall off naturally, it can be quite hard to shed that last little bit - especially for older women. Cycling is a fantastic way to lose weight without even realising you are doing it. Set yourself a distance or speed goal (once your body is ready for proper training) and as you work at achieving it you will slowly be losing those extra pounds and toning up at the same time.
6. Spend time with adults
Without even realising it you're likely to go days without interacting with adults in the weeks after you've managed to get rid of the persistent stream of adoring visitors. For the first few days you'll probably enjoy the alone time to bond with your baby but it won't be long before you're craving adult interaction again - especially if you're not used to being a stay at home mum.
See if there's a cycling club in your local area or start one yourself so that you can get out of the house, get some exercise and chat to women your own age a couple of times a week. It will do wonders for your mood and no doubt your relationship too as you won't be solely dependent on your partner to provide you with riveting adult conversation each evening.
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