The Power of Postnatal Exercise

The Power of Postnatal Exercise – Blog Post #18

Beth from the How Are You Cambridgeshire and Peterborough team chatted with Nicola Ostler, founder of BuggyBootcamp, and a champion for postnatal exercise groups. Nicola was living in California when she had her first child and as someone who already had an interest in fitness, found the motivation to go running with her baby in a pushchair but, on her regular route, her attention was drawn to a group exercise class for new parents. She eventually joined it, quickly realising the benefits extended far beyond her physical health.

“I realised that exercising with other new mums offered a feeling of safety, of being supported, and it opened up a whole new community for me to be a part of. Being in a different country was isolating but being in this phase of parenthood was common to all of us. Adding in the knowledge of the leader in making sure exercises were adapted for post-partum bodies and the benefits of being outside, classes soon became the highlight of my week.”

Fast forward to when Nicola returned to the UK and thought about how she could create a community here, use the teaching skills she already had and share with others how the classes had made her feel, BuggyBootcamp was born.

“My approach was that if it helped just one other new mum then I’d have achieved something.”

The list of ways in which joining a group exercise class postnatally can benefit new mums is long. These classes are different from regular exercise classes in that you can bring your baby or toddler with you and attend to them as needed without anyone batting an eyelid – whether you need to feed, change or soothe them. Also, with specific training in postnatal movement, the focus is on what you can achieve rather than your limitations, with plenty of options for every ability and every stage of healing and recovery. Add to the mental and physical benefits that can come from doing something for oneself, being outdoors and joining a community who will support you and share your ups and downs.

“People share all kinds of advice too” says Nicola, “Not surprisingly, sleep is a hot topic and breastfeeding probably comes in second. I try to nurture a culture of openness and inclusiveness.

In the early days of BuggyBootcamp there was a generally accepted view of the link between physical and mental health but these days research suggests that exercise can alleviate symptoms of postnatal depression.

“What I observe and I hear anecdotally is that coming to BuggyBootcamp is a catalyst for friendship groups that endure long after people have stopped attending so it’s great that the shared experience of classes is building social connections that continue to benefit women’s wellbeing as their parenting journey develops.”

BuggyBootcamp classes are available in Ely in East Cambs, St Neots in Hunts and Waterbeach in South Cambs – find out more here. There’s some excellent information about what to expect and some ‘frequently asked questions’ on this link. Nicola also offers strength-training sessions for women in Milton plus one-to-one personal training.

For information about postnatal exercise and general exercise classes near you, check out the How Are You website for your district on this link.

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