We all just need some fresh air… A phrase which has been repeated (perhaps through gritted teeth) over hundreds of years in households all over the world because humans need air, sunlight and movement to feel good. Being around nature makes people happier. Studies have shown that being close to a water source lifts people’s moods. Gazing at clouds and greenery has also been shown to improve mental wellbeing. Exercising in nature has also proven to have benefits over exercising in more artificial environments.
However, when sleep deprived you can often crave inactivity, caffeine and sugar to get through the day. As a mum of two girls, I have been there but I have found a few things I wanted to share with you which help me get out the door.
The first is a buggy that can handle the terrain. I love to run with my children in a buggy because it’s the perfect way to multitask so many elements; nap time, getting Vitamin D, exercise, errands etc. I’ve done this since they were 6 months old and am passionate that this can unlock freedom for parents again. But what is an all-terrain or running buggy?
An all-terrain or running buggy is a stroller with large, mostly air-filled wheels that are designed to handle and smoothly ride over all types of terrains, including grass and gravel. This makes them ideal for sitting your child in whilst you go walking, jogging and running in areas without smooth surfaces.
5 features to look for in a running buggy:
- A front wheel which has the option to lock OR a front wheel which is permanently fixed (i.e. doesn't swivel). This is a safety measure and ensures when you are traveling at speed the buggy stays moving forward in a straight line.
- A minimum of 16 inch rear wheels and all wheels with inflatable tyres (like a bike). This creates a smooth ride for your baby and makes it easier for you to push. Don’t be worried about punctures, they are easy to patch or you can get replacement inner tubes cheaply.
- Suspension. Takes the majority of the impact out of the ride making it more comfortable.
- Weight of the buggy. The lighter the buggy the easier it is to push. This gets handy when you are pushing a 4 year old.
- Handbrake. Most running buggies have this now. It is designed to slow you down when running downhill, much like a brake on a bike. Especially useful with a double buggy, which has some weight pulling away from you, or if you live in a hilly area.
Where to go?
Look for local parks or nature reserves which enable you to be around trees. If you are new to an area then just ask local people or in Facebook community groups. Public footpaths are marked on OS maps (there is now an app) but there can be stiles or gates as barriers, so opt for but bike paths are a good option. Many lakes or rivers have paths alongside them and Parkrun has many routes which are an option so take a look at their website too. Strava is a great app for tracking activity and can help you get ideas for run routes either by following local runners or taking up the Strava suggested route.
6 Tips to return to exercise safely after having a baby
- Make sure you have had your 6 week sign off from the doctor to start gentle exercise.
- Literally 'walk before you run' and if you experience any discomfort in your pelvis or lower back then slow down. Build up gradually, especially if you haven't been regularly exercising pre-birth/pregnancy.
- Once walking is easy try a run/walk (2mins/2mins) pattern. Many people have found Jeffing (a method of run/walk) a useful way back to fitness. Couch to 5k is also a popular plan too.
- Posture wise run tall with your shoulders back and relaxed. Lift those knees up and drive your elbow back at 90 degrees. When buggy running, ideally hold the buggy with one hand and swing the other.
- Wait for your baby to be at least 6 months old to be in the buggy when you are running so they have the strength to hold their head. Do not run with a car seat or bassinet.
- Strengthen your pelvic floor! It's one of those British things that isn't openly discussed but do your pelvic floor exercises regularly to ensure there are no leaks. Remember running is a high impact sport! Get help from a Women’s Health Physio or use a product like INNOVO to get strong pelvic muscles for life.
For further advice or inspiration head to The Original Buggy Runners Facebook community, or take a look at how coach Wendy juggles family life, fitness and coaching @thebuggycoach on Instagram. Learn more about how INNOVO can help to strengthen your pelvic floor and improve your running technique as a mother without any extra work too.