Date Published: 24 March 2006

Overworked mums warned to stop putting off exercise

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Physios say time with children can be better spent:

Juggling a partner, children, relatives, friends AND a boss may mean some mothers feel that they have little or no time available for exercise but chartered physiotherapists believe exercising with children is the best time to get fit and ward off the ill-effects of a hectic lifestyle.

On an average weekday, full time working mothers, in a couple, spend nearly four and a half hours caring for their children. This figure increases to six and a half hours at the weekend with almost half of this time spent on housework or watching television in the company of children (according to Labour Force Survey, Spring 2003, Office for National Statistics).

This Mother's Day (March 26), the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) is urging working women to stop putting exercise on the backburner and incorporate time spent with children with physical activities to help boost energy levels and keep in overall good shape.

Alex Welman, chartered physiotherapist in women's health, said:

" Exercise should be an integral part of your life just like brushing your teeth or combing your hair. It should be stress relieving ? not stress provoking.

_ Doing exercises with your new baby, toddler or school age child can help to keep you both happy and give you a sense of wellbeing. Regular exercise not only helps to improve your strength, suppleness and stamina but is also important for relaxation, restful sleep and confidence building, which can be fragile if you are a new mum."

Struggling to manage a busy work and home life can take its toll on your mental and physical health. Exercise helps to relieve stress, anxiety, mild depression and low self-esteem, Alex says.

" It is important mothers give themselves some "me-time" which isn't wasted on domestic chores. Using the time spent with children on weekdays and weekends is a great opportunity to combine exercise with quality playtime."

The CSP has devised the following tips mothers can carry out with their children. If you are new to exercise, be sensible and start gently. If you experience any backache, pelvic girdle pain or incontinence, consult your local women's health chartered physiotherapist. Visit www.acpwh.org.uk for details.

Tips for mums:

  • Whilst feeding your child, imagine you are trying to stop yourself passing urine or wind. Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor muscles (PFMs), closing and drawing up the three passages. Hold the squeeze for as long as you can up to 10 seconds and then relax. Do not hold your breath! Repeat up to 10 times. You can try this exercise in standing too, e.g. whilst washing up. It is also important your PFMs can react quickly to stop you leaking when you cough, sneeze or laugh. Tighten them as quickly and strongly as you can and then relax fully. Repeat this up to 10 times. Try doing both sets of exercises three times a day for the rest of your life. Tighten your PFMs before and during any activity requiring effort. Strong PFMs help maintain bladder and bowel control, prevent prolapse of the pelvic organs and they help to increase sexual enjoyment .
  • Maintain your posture by using your core muscles: stand tall with your shoulders back, pull in your lower tummy and pelvic floor muscles a little way whenever standing or walking .
  • Brisk walking is an excellent form of exercise. You can do this while pushing the pram or out shopping.
  • Dance to music with your child. Children love to watch and are often eager to join in.
  • If you take the children to school and it's within walking distance, leave the car at home. If travelling to work by car or public transport, park a short distance away or get off a stop early and make a brisk walk part of your travelling routine.
  • Play active games in the garden such as football or cricket with your children.
  • Take up cycling, swimming and tennis as family activities. Having friends and relatives with you to watch children can give you the time you need to do a few lengths in the pool.
  • Enrol in a reputable Pilates or Yoga class with qualified instructors to help with flexibility, breathing control, core stability exercises, pelvic floor, posture and body awareness.

Source: Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (UK) -

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