As the days get shorter and the autumn weather sets in, it's harder and harder to find the time and inclination to hit the gym or the pavement. We've been talking to pregnancy and post-natal fitness experts FittaMamma about simple ways to stay fit when you're at work as well as getting a few tips on exercises you can try on your own!
Whilst some companies provide their staff with a gym and you can just pop down for a workout at lunch-time and others offer a discounted gym membership as a perk for employees, most of us need to find ways of introducing more fitness and well-being into our working lives.
Fitness and exercise when you have kids
There are so many benefits to increasing your levels of fitness, especially if you're pregnant, just getting back into work after having a baby or juggling childcare and a full-time job.
FittaMamma says: "You might need to adapt your routine, but even a modest amount of daily exercise can reduce stress and improve your mood, aid concentration and help you sleep better. Strengthening your cardiovascular system will improve your stamina, making it easier to cope with the demands of running a home and family as well as a job."
Introduce some cardio exercises whenever you can
Cardio exercise is so important for keeping your heart and lungs fit and healthy. Ideally you should aim for 30 minutes of cardio activity on at least five days a week to improve your general fitness - but you don't need to go anywhere special. Cycling, swimming and running are all great for improving your cardio and you can easily incorporate cardio exercise into your everyday life.
- Leave the car at home and walk or cycle to work instead
- Park the car a short distance from your work place and finish your journey with a brisk stroll
- Take a walk at lunchtime instead of lingering over a cup of tea and a sandwich
- Get off the bus, tube or train a stop earlier
- Use the stairs instead of the lift
- When you're at home, turn the music up loud and boogie whilst you vacuum
- Include the kids and play active games with them - it will be good for their cardiovascular health too!
If you're looking for simple cardio routines to do at home, the FittaMamma website has plenty of good advice and exercise routines that need minimal equipment.
Reduce tension with desk-based yoga
If you're sitting at a desk all day it's easy to end up with tension in your shoulders. Try to make sure your chair is set at the correct height and your computer screen is correctly positioned so you are not straining your back, shoulders or your eyes.
Yoga can help relieve the tension of your daily working life - and there are some poses that you can easily do at your desk.
The Cow Pose
This is a simple yoga posture that will help make more space for your breathing and release the tension in your upper back and shoulders.
- Sitting up tall, breathe out and lengthen your back, rolling your shoulders gently to release them
- Stretch your right arm up, bend your elbow and drop your hand down the back of your neck
- Now reach up behind your back with your left hand, reaching as high as you can so the fingers of both hands meet. If they don't touch, try holding a yoga belt with your right hand reaching for the belt with your left hand, working your hands as close together as you can without straining
- Hold the pose for about a minute, lengthening your lower back and neck and breathing deeply. Make sure you keep your neck free and don't allow your arm to push against your head
- Release both arms, breathe deeply and relax for a minute before repeating on the other side.
The Full Eagle Pose
This is usually a standing posture, executed on one leg, that improves your balance and stretches your upper back, shoulders and outer thighs as well as strengthening your legs, knees and ankles - but this might be a bit tricky in your workplace!
However, with a few adaptations, you can perform it while sitting and using the arm posture which will create space between your shoulder blades, ease tension in your back and stretch your arms and shoulders.
- Keep your spine straight, inhale and raise your arms up to shoulder level with palms facing upwards
- Cross your left arm over the right so that the elbows rest on top of each other
- Bend your elbows, wrapping your forearms around each other with palms facing each other. Your fingers should point to the ceiling. If the palms do not touch, keep one palm resting against the other wrist or forearm
- Remain in the pose for 30 - 60 seconds before unwrapping your arms and bringing them gently back so your hands rest on your thighs
- Relax and repeat the other side.
More tips on pregancy exercises and fitness for mums
Visit FittaMamma for more exercises, yoga poses, recipes and stylish fitness wear that is ideal throughout pregnancy, post natal exercise, and for curvier ladies who want to keep fit.
Plus, read the articles in our earlier pregnancy and fitness series: