Although you may be eager to return to your pre-pregnancy shape after a C-section, it is important to allow yourself plenty of time to recover before returning to an exercise plan. Most obstetricians recommend a recovery period of six to eight weeks before engaging in vigorous exercise. Keep in mind that you are recovering from invasive surgery and nine months of pregnancy. Once you’ve received medical clearance, exercising on a regular basis can help you lose the pregnancy weight
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Aerobic exercise burns calories and helps you regain muscle strength and stamina. Start slowly with low-impact, calorie-burning exercises such as swimming, cycling, walking and the elliptical machine. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity five or more day a week. Those looking to lose weight may need to exercise for 60 to 90 minutes to see results. Take your baby on a brisk walk in the stroller, perform a DVD at home or attend a group fitness class for an effective aerobic workout. Add duration and intensity to your workout as your strength and stamina improve.
Although aerobic exercise burns more calories, strength training builds lean muscle mass. Your muscles continue to build calories even when your body is at rest. Increasing your lean muscle mass increases your body’s ability to burn calories both during and after your workout. Include exercises that target both your upper and lower body. Choose a weight that allows you to perform one set of 10 to 15 repetitions of each exercise. Strength train two or more times per week. Increase the number of sets as your strength improves.
Your abdominal muscles stretch and weaken during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby. A C-section further damages your stomach muscles through surgery. Simple abdominal exercises, such as abdominal breathing and pelvic tilts, can be performed within a few days following surgery. After receiving medical clearance, more advanced exercises, such as regular, reverse and bicycle crunches, can help rebuild and strengthen your abdominal muscles. Include abdominal exercises as part of your strength training or aerobic workout routine.
Consult your doctor before beginning an exercise routine to avoid injuring your incision site. Start out slowly and listen to your body as you exercise. Keep in mind that losing weight after pregnancy takes time and patience. Stay hydrated, get plenty of rest and eat a balanced diet for maximum weight loss results. If you experience nausea, dizziness, pain or excessive vaginal bleeding, stop exercising and contact your physician.