Postpartum depression support

Best Postpartum Exercises For Fathers

The time immediately after childbirth and ranging for up to a year is typically described as the “postpartum period”.

During this period, both mom and dad go through a lot of new changes, adaptations, challenges, and excitement as they take care of their newborn baby.

There has not been a one-size-fits-all manual written for this period, as it is different with each situation and family.

Many factors go into the potential issues, especially mental ones that could arise throughout postpartum. However, there is one thing that I strongly believe in and will preach atop a mountain that will help fend off these overwhelming emotions and that is exercise.

While exercise can be very limited for the mom especially right after giving birth due to the physical change her body went through, fathers can benefit from this immensely.

Staying active while also maintaining a healthy diet will allow fathers to show up as the best version of themselves. There are so many positive outcomes to being engaged in an active routine with a healthy lifestyle that will be covered throughout this article.

Instead of letting ourselves go as fathers and becoming another “dad bod” statistic, it’s time to take control of your body and health so that you can have a bright future being there for your family.

Exercise is an amazing tool for managing PPD as well from the happy hormones it produces to the self-confidence it teaches, which will also be explored throughout this article.

Understanding the Postpartum Period

Mom has just given birth to your new baby and life couldn’t be more exciting and fun to look forward to, right?

While this is the societal image that is displayed throughout the prenatal period leading up to childbirth, it also comes with a lot more luggage that typically isn’t talked about.

As a new father, you are thrust into this ever-changing world of figuring out the baby, supporting mom, holding a job, household duties, and the list could go on for different scenarios. That is a lot to swallow and can truly take a toll on dad’s physical and emotional well-being.

New dads may feel selfish when it comes to self-care and start to slip with their normal physical routine or healthy lifestyle. They may have gained some extra pounds with mom throughout her pregnancy to make her feel better. Sugar and fatty foods can start to become more addictive and an easy go-to when feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

All of these changes are certainly challenging to adapt to, however, there is a superpower that has a proven track record of maintaining positive mental health and that is exercise.

Exercise can help combat PPD through the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. These two mood boosters can help regulate those overwhelming emotions and give a shot of confidence to working through challenges.

Your stress levels will also improve as exercise has scientifically proven to release endorphins which benefit overall well-being and regulate those stressful moments.

Improving your self-image and self-confidence when you begin seeing results from your workouts is a massive boost in gaining your identity back in becoming the best version of yourself.

Energy levels will also see a spike as exercise has been shown to improve your cardiovascular fitness and overall stamina. This is especially important during the early postpartum period when good quality sleep is sometimes rare to come across.

Creating a Personalized Exercise Plan

So now that the benefits of exercise have been briefed on, what’s next? Just like with any goal, milestone, or reward you are working towards, there must be an actionable plan in place.

Understand this, doing a quick exercise, jog, or physical activity may give you some relief in the short term but for long-term results being patient, consistent, and disciplined with your routine will reap massive benefits.

Clicking your heels together and wishing you had a 6 pack with massive biceps overnight does not happen, at least not safely.

We all have different physical activities that we prefer more than others. Some people love cardiovascular whereas others enjoy weightlifting. You may be one of the few that look forward to both of them.

I encourage you to start, get back in, or continue with your routine with what you most enjoy. This will give you more motivation and success in getting back into the swing of exercising.

Once you get back into a solid routine and are consistent with it, then you can start to mix things up and add some different flavors to your plan.

It is very important, especially for new dads just getting into exercising to talk to a healthcare professional about your routine. They may modify some things if there may be more harm than good to a certain element in your plan.

Also, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Don’t overexert yourself, lift too much, or push it beyond expectations, especially in the beginning. The last thing you need right now is an injury or even a long-term setback.

Slow and steady is the mentality to take when beginning a new workout routine. Delayed satisfaction is the most important mantra to remind yourself when expecting results, so with time and patience you will always be working towards the best version of yourself.

Suitable Exercises for Fathers with PostPartum Depression

Now let’s take a look at what types of exercise are out there and how we can incorporate them into our busy “with a baby” lives.

Cardiovascular exercises for Postpartum

Walking/jogging

If you are a newcomer to engaging in cardiovascular exercises, I would encourage you to begin with walking slowly ramping up to a faster pace the more comfortable you become.

While this may sound silly and useless, remember you are creating a routine to be consistent with and allowing your body to adjust to these new physical demands.

Also, walking/jogging outside not only provides benefits from physical activity but being in the sun and outdoors increases vitamin D production and boosts your mood.

Cycling

Hopping on a stationary bike at your local gym, or even buying one and putting it in your basement is a great way to get your heart pumping.

While it is physically less demanding than walking/jogging/running, you can still break a serious sweat with a good bike workout. The nice thing is you can adjust the resistance on a stationary bike as you become more comfortable and stronger.

You can also do practice intervals with a bike routine where you ride hard for two minutes and then take two minutes off, which really strengthens your cardiovascular system.

Strength training exercises for Postpartum

Bodyweight exercises

These can be such a useful strategy of engaging in some type of exercise no matter where you are.

Prime examples of this are

  • Pushups
  • Situps
  • Squats
  • Calf raises
  • Pull-ups
  • Lunges
  • Tricep dips

The beauty of these all is that you can do it right from your own home, even if you have only a few minutes while you are killing time.

Take advantage of the baby napping, hanging out in their swing, or even doing tummy time and pump out some push ups followed by some sit ups.

I love this method because it keeps your mindset in being consistent and disciplined so that you can stay motivated to get results.

Weightlifting

If you have become comfortable with body weight exercise, now is the time to step it up and head to the gym for some weightlifting.

While there are a ton of different workout plans to follow with weightlifting, I encourage you to start with the easiest and something that you want to see results from.

For example, if you are looking for bigger biceps, there are many variations of dumbbell curls that will get you those results.

The same could be said for chest, back, shoulders, legs, and abs.

Mind-body exercises for Postpartum

Yoga

While yoga may have a “feminine” stigma around it, there are so many benefits with increased mobility and circulation that men will see.

The great thing about yoga is that you can also do it from your own home as there are countless videos on youtube to watch and follow along with.

A session can range anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour, so whatever time you have available there is a lesson out there for you.

Stretching

While yoga encompasses a lot of stretching activities, sometimes you just need a few minutes to loosen some muscles. Stretching may not bring the physical results you may be looking for, but taking a few minutes in the morning and evening and focusing on some tight areas throughout your body will over time prove very beneficial.

I recently have started stretching in the evening consistently and have noticed a big difference in how much better my back feels in the morning when I wake up.

Group activities and social support

Joining exercise classes or groups

If starting a routine on your own may seem daunting and overwhelming, joining a spin class at your local gym, a walking group in your neighborhood, or maybe a pilates or yoga class could help break down that barrier.

These classes are typically led by someone who knows what they are doing and is supportive and helpful with showing you the right way to exercise. Even the strongest of people still take fitness classes to continue improving.

Overcoming Barriers to Exercise With PostPartum

Time is something that fathers typically take for granted before they have a child, and then find it very difficult to get a minute to themselves, especially in the early postpartum period.

If you are struggling with PPD or another perinatal mood disorder, you may feel selfish, unconfident, or unmotivated to start an exercise routine. This is normal, and YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

The great thing is that you will get through this and with small steps in the beginning building momentum, confidence, and strength you will look forward to hitting the gym or going out for a run.

Picture the ideal version of yourself and how you want to show up for your family. What will it take to get there and how do you plan on doing it?

Are you happy with the current version of what you see in the mirror or how you feel in the morning and throughout the day?

While I don’t have a magical pill for you to take that will immediately bring you to that compelling future, I do have a proven strategy for becoming the best version of yourself, and that is through exercise.

It’s not easy to get started, but once you do it’s tough to slow down. The new feelings of confidence, strength, happiness, reduced stress, weight loss, better energy, and mood enhancement start to become addicting as you become the best version of yourself.

Starting small such as incorporating your baby into your walks with a stroller is a great way to not feel guilty or selfish that you are getting some physical activity in.

Showing your child that you are doing body squats or pushups at home in front of them makes you a great role model for a healthy lifestyle that your child will follow.

There are many ways to work through barriers and if you are looking for some extra advice or a journey to the best version of yourself, take 30 minutes and schedule a connection call with me to see where I can best help you out.

Mental Health Support

As much as exercise can benefit someone struggling with ppd or other perinatal mood disorders, it is always a priority to seek professional help when you are experiencing those symptoms and overwhelming feelings from these conditions.

I love being able to take matters into my own hands, especially through exercising and what it has done for me, but sometimes you just need extra support and help from a professional. There is nothing wrong with seeking help and just acknowledging that you are in a place of need shows you are strong and willing to make a change.

Therapy and counselling are fantastic ways of working through perinatal mood disorders and overcoming the challenging moments that they face. Exercise and a healthy diet in my opinion are the most impactful complementary to these services that you can do for yourself on your own.

Looking back at where I was to where I am now through exercise is such an amazing feeling and a confidence booster to what I am capable of now. I know I can show up for my family and continue working on being the best version of myself every day that I can.

So if this is something that you want to look forward to along with other life-changing actions that will create gratitude, love, and confidence with your family then take 30 minutes and see if you could be a part of a signature coaching program designed to bring you that compelling future.

Conclusion

Exercise takes time and with the mindset of delayed satisfaction, you will see results and improve not only your life but your families as well. You will show up as a better version of yourself and be even more of a positive role model for your child.

Science has shown how important maintaining a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise is for living a long and rewarding life, so now is the time to take matters into your own hands and get physical!

Start small, be forgiving, and try to be as consistent as possible with your new exercise plan and I promise that over time you will look back at the old version of yourself and kiss him goodbye forever.

Your time is now to change your life and through professional support and a disciplined exercise plan you can create the best version of yourself you know you are capable of!

Addison Caproni

Enjoy a life of love, gratitude and confidence with your family

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